Funding for next year's college tuition is probably something that many students aren't yet thinking about as they adjust to their new schedules and settle in for the 2016-17 academic school year. However, that's going to change. The government would like students to start thinking ahead a little sooner.
Substantial changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application process were made by the president of the United States in the fall of last year. Those changes will take effect for the 2017-18 academic year. Students planning on attending college during that year can now send in their forms as early as Oct. 1, 2016 and as late as June 30, 2018.
Some students were surprised to hear of the change. Newman senior Cheyenne Rouse had some advice for those who will be applying for next year. "You definitely want to get in your FAFSA early because it can affect your scholarships and your grants," adding, "the earlier the better."
Junior Corbin Riley is going to jump on his application for the earlier date. "I might as well get it in sooner," he said. "They do say that the funds can run out, so it's good for students to get in as soon as you can."
In addition to the change in submission date, applicants will need to have prepared reported income information for an earlier year. For instance, students and/or parents who applied for the 2016-17 FAFSA had to report their 2016 income information. Beginning this October, all 2017-18 applicants will need to report their income information for the 2015 tax year.
According to Forbes.com, the Department of Education processes approximately 22 million FAFSA submissions each year. Thousands of students and/or guardians are seeking federal aid whether it be loans and grants. Newman encourages students to take advantage of the early date and apply as soon as possible.
Director of Financial Aid Myra Pfannenstiel says, "Beginning Oct. 1st, students should go ahead and fill out the free application for federal aid. I would encourage them to use the IRS data retrieval tool, meaning they will go grab the information from the IRS and it will update their FAFSA for them. If they do that successfully and do not change anything, then that will eliminate the need to provide tax transcripts to the financial office."
Pfannenstiel says the early date will eliminate the preparation time they had in previous years, but they will be ready for applications to start rolling in. She also encourages students to come to the financial aid office with any questions or concerns they might have or e-mail their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. "If students have questions, we want to be here to help them through the process if we can. So we would welcome any questions they have."