Students seeking financial aid can now complete their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application earlier and with more ease than before, thanks to the Obama Administration.
According to WhiteHouse.gov, the updated FAFSA application process will offer multiple benefits to students. All improvements stemming from an earlier FAFSA application availability date in October of a student’s senior year, rather than January. This date is three months earlier than previous years and will be available to students starting October 1, 2016.
Benefits of this earlier application date include offering students the ability to use their parent’s “prior-prior” year tax and income information, directly from the IRS and only a few months after their parents file their previous year tax returns. This accurate data from the IRS will reduce the number of applicants who miscalculate income or taxes paid, and need to resubmit their application. Accurate data will also reduce the amount of time colleges have to spend on verifying applicant’s FAFSA information and income and tax data. Universities and colleges typically spend almost 3 million hours each year on this task alone.
Students will also get an earlier and more reliable picture of what their financial aid eligibility could be as early as the fall of their senior year, allowing them to have a better understanding of which colleges they can afford.
The White House announcement reads as follows:
“Beginning on October 1, 2016, students can apply for financial aid a few months after they and their parents file their 2015 tax returns with reliable information retrieved electronically from the IRS, rather than waiting until the next year’s tax season to finalize their FAFSAs and to learn about their financial aid.
“Giving students and families the ability to submit their FAFSAs earlier and to use earlier income data, commonly referred to as ‘prior-prior’ year, will have several important benefits, including simpler applications, a growth in Pell Grant distribution and a reduced burden on college financial aid processors.”
These changes to the FAFSA application are an important step in decreasing the lag between the financial aid application and reward timeline for students, parents, and school administration. The new application date will allow students to complete their FAFSA application in the fall of their senior year, rather than waiting until the spring, giving students an earlier picture of their financial aid eligibility and one less thing they need to worry about as they prepare for graduation and college.
To learn more about this development, read the White House statement.