The New FAFSA Changes You Should Know
Before we talk about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) new filing date, let’s address who should file the FAFSA form.
The FAFSA form is free and should be completed by any parent sending their children to college. The number one mistaken comment I hear is: “We’ll never qualify for financial aid, we make too much money.” But there are more factors than just income when financial aid is calculated, such as number of family members in the household, number of children in college, type of assets owned and more. It’s also possible to plan ahead and position your assets so they are not detrimental to your financial aid calculations. Even if you won’t qualify for needs-based financial aid, your child may qualify for merit aid, grants, scholarships or tuition discounts. Failing to file the FAFSA form may exclude your child from these benefits. Nearly all public and most private institutions base all of their aid packages on the information provided to them through the FAFSA form.
Now that you know that you need to file the FAFSA form, you’ll want to take note of the new filing date!
On Sept. 14, 2015, the federal government announced significant changes to the FAFSA process that will impact millions of students. Starting with the 2017–18 application cycle, the following changes will be put in place:
Students will be able to submit a FAFSA earlier. Students will be able to file a 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change
Students will use earlier income information. Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students will be required to report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) will report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information.
The two main sources of college funding come from the governments (federal and state) and the institutions themselves. Aid funding is usually issued on a first come, first serve basis, so file your FAFSA form as early as possible. You can file it online at www.fafsa.ed.gov, fill out a PDF version on their website, or request a paper version by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
David J. Ward, CFP®, CCPS®, Clear View College Funding Solutions