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What is the Simplified Needs Test?

Notice: The 2024/2025 FAFSA permanently eliminated the Simplified Needs Test–the following information applies to the 2023–2024 FAFSA only.

The FAFSA Simplified Needs Test is a formula that allows certain students to skip the questions about assets when completing the FAFSA. Students who qualify for the Simplified Needs Test will have assets excluded from the calculation of their Expected Family Contribution. There are certain income and other financial requirements that students must meet, and they vary slightly between dependent and independent students. Continue reading to learn more about the FAFSA Simplified Needs Test!

Don’t miss: All about FAFSA verification of bank accounts

What is the Simplified Needs Test?

Surprise! It’s not like a SAT/ACT test! When completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students are asked to provide financial information about themselves and their family. This information is used to calculate a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid and determine their Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The Simplified Needs Test allows certain students to have assets excluded from the EFC calculation.

If the FAFSA ever asks you to skip questions, you should always answer “yes.” You should know , however, some states and schools require students to complete the asset information regardless of if they qualify for the Simplified Needs Test. So, if you are attending one of those colleges or are  a resident of one of those states, you will have to provide all of the asset and income information. If you are unsure, remember, you can always update your FAFSA information. Skip the questions on your first submission and if requested by your college, you can add the financial information when asked.  Completing all of the income and asset questions will not disqualify students from using the Simplified Needs Test to obtain their EFC.

See also: FAFSA 101 guide

Who qualifies for the Simplified Needs Test?

There are multiple requirements that students must meet in order to be eligible for the Simplified Needs Test. Requirements vary between dependent and independent students. 

The income threshold is $50,000 or less. For dependent students, this means their parents’ combined AGI  doesn’t exceed $50,000. Independent student’s, combined with their spouse,AGI’s shouldn’t exceed $50,000. Non-tax filers should use the wages, salary, and tips shown on their W-2 forms if they received those, plus any earnings from work not included on the W-2s.

See also: Am I a dependent or independent student?

Simplified Needs Test for students

In addition to the $50,000 income threshold, to qualify for the simplified needs test the student’s household must qualify for one of the below: 

  • Anyone included in the student’s ’ household (as defined on the FAFSA) received benefits from  Medicaid Program, SSI Program, SNAP, Free and Reduced Price School Lunch Program,TANF Program, WIC

OR

  • For a dependent student: The student’s parents filed an IRS Form 1040, but did not file a Schedule 1, filed a tax form from a Trust Territory, or were not required to file any income tax return
  • For an independent student: The student (and student’s spouse, if married), filed an IRS Form 1040, but did not file a Schedule 1, filed a tax form from a Trust Territory, or were not required to file any income tax return

OR

  • The student’s parent is a dislocated worker or the independent student or independent student’s spouse is a dislocated worker

See also: What is a dislocated worker on the FAFSA?

How to use the Simplified Needs Test

The simplified needs test is not a separate form or “test” the student must submit. The FAFSA website will automatically allow qualifying students to skip the assets questions if they meet the simplified needs test.. Be sure to complete the FAFSA on time to receive as much financial aid as possible!