Have you heard about the changes coming this year to filers of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)? These changes have been in the works for years as colleges and the federal government look to ways to simplify the process and give families more time to make the decision on which college is the best academic and financial fit for their child.
Movin’ on Up!
The first change is a new filing date. In the past students could only begin to file a FAFSA after January 1st and the earliest they were likely to receive a financial aid package was in late February or early March. This meant that families then had less than 60 days before the national reply deadline of May 1st to make a decision. If the student wanted to appeal the aid award or was asked by the financial aid office to verify information submitted the timeframe would be even shorter. The result was a mad scramble that often meant some students made decisions to attend colleges they simply could not afford or worse yet, missed out on a school they could afford.
As a result of this change to the filing deadline, many colleges will be issuing financial packages to students earlier. At Lycoming, students submitting applications under all forms of admission will now receive their financial aid package at the time of acceptance as long as their FAFSA is on file. This will give students added time to arrange for visits, engage in conversations with admissions and financial aid counselors and to more thoughtfully consider other colleges they are considering to make the best decision possible.
The second major change involves income data from a student and their families used to compute financial aid. In the past families were required to submit income data from the most recent tax year. Since most families do not have their taxes done by the time of most colleges’ priority FAFSA filing deadline they often had to estimate their information. This required a return to confirm the income data submitted on the FAFSA at a later time to verify the income data submitted. If the numbers differed this would result in a college having to correct a package and in some cases reduce an offer to a student.
Starting this year families will be asked to submit income data from two year’s back or “prior-prior” year income information. This will result in accurate data being submitted as it will be coming from an already completed tax form. The anxiety of submitting estimated and perhaps incorrect information will no longer be an issue.
To take advantage of these changes its best to consider filing as soon after October 1st as possible to give you the maximum amount of time to evaluate which college makes the best sense for you and your family.
If you have questions please call us at (800) 345-3920 and we’ll be happy to help.
Learn more about all the changes to the FAFSA process here.