The Latest on FAFSA

The Latest on FAFSA
By: Kali K. Brand
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is a form that future college students and current college students must complete in order to apply for all types of financial aid.  The types of financial aid that students could qualify for include Pell Grants, Work Study, Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.  In addition, many states and colleges use the FAFSA information to determine eligibility for state and school aid such as scholarships. The FAFSA application helps financial aid offices determine the amount of money a student’s family will be able to contribute to the cost of attending a college or university. This financial aid application is completed by submitting personal information and income data on the official FAFSA web site -  https://fafsa.ed.gov/ or students and parents may choose to submit a paper application. 

During the fall of 2015, President Obama announced significant changes to the FAFSA process.  One change includes the submission date. The 2016-2017 FAFSA application will be the final to launch on January 1.  This is very significant for future high school students because they will now be able to begin the FAFSA application sooner.  The announcement stated that beginning with the 2017-2018 FAFSA, the application cycle start date will move from January 1 to October 1 of the previous year.  This means that future or current college students who need to apply for financial aid for the 2017-2018 application cycle will be able to submit the FAFSA anytime between October 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018.  The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, therefore allowing students to complete and submit the FAFSA as early as October 1 every year.

The early submission date for the FAFSA is not the only change made to the application process.  Currently, students and parents, when appropriate, must submit their income information from the “prior” year.  With the new changes, students and parents will be allowed to submit the “prior-prior” year.

The new changes of earlier submission and earlier use of income information to complete the FAFSA will benefit students by aligning the financial aid application process and college admission process, providing certainty in financial provisions therefore not having to estimate and allowing more time for students and parents to receive more information and apply for FAFSA before college and state deadlines.

This is just a review of the new FAFSA changes announced on September 14, 2015 by President Obama.  For more detailed information or questions of the FAFSA changes go to https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/fafsa-changes or contact a local college or university’s financial aid office.

Resources:   U.S. Department of Education, September 2-15, https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/fafsa-changes