What Is the Student Aid Index?

Student Aid Index will replace Expected Family Contribution on the 2024-25 FAFSA form.
Eliza Haverstock
By Eliza Haverstock 
Updated
Edited by Des Toups

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Is the new FAFSA available? After a weeklong "soft-launch" period, the redesigned FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year is now available 24/7 at FAFSA.gov. Due to major processing delays, you won't be able to make changes to your submitted FAFSA until mid-March, at the soonest.

You can still submit the 2023-24 FAFSA until June 30, 2024.

Starting in the 2024-25 academic year, a measure called the Student Aid Index, or SAI, will be used to determine a student's ability to pay for college and the amount of financial aid they can receive.

It replaces Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, which has previously been used to calculate a student's financial need.

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How will the Student Aid Index be calculated?

The information you input on the FAFSA about you and your family’s financial profile determines your SAI. The index equals the sum of your parents’ available income, your income and assets.

Unlike the EFC, the SAI does not consider the number of family members in college. This means that parents will no longer receive a "sibling discount" for putting multiple kids through college at the same time.

Once you submit the new FAFSA and the Education Department processes the form (currently slated to begin in mid-March 2024), you’ll receive your FAFSA Submission Summary, which details the information you included on the application and your SAI. This summary was previously called the Student Aid Report.

Students must submit the FAFSA each year they are in school to unlock federal student loans, grants, work-study and even some private scholarships.

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How is the Student Aid Index used?

SAI is used as part of the equation for financial need, which is found by subtracting the Student Aid Index and other financial assistance from the cost of attendance at each school. Your cost of attendance includes tuition, fees and room and board. The equation essentially looks like this:

Cost of attendance - SAI = financial need

The SAI can help students receive more financial aid. While the minimum EFC was zero, the SAI now has no minimum threshold for dependent students, according to a Feb. 27 Education Department update. This allows students to show a higher financial need.

For example, if your cost of attendance is $30,000 and your SAI is -$2,500, your financial need would be $32,500.

Even if you demonstrate financial need, colleges aren’t required to meet 100% of your financial need. In addition to need-based aid like grants or scholarships, your financial aid package may also include federal student loans, which you repay in the future. Some types of aid, such as work-study, might also be limited at your school.

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