Tips for Parents

Changes to the FAFSA

By Diane Schwemm

The FAFSA is changing! The FAFSA is changing!

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High School Parent | College Parent

If you have a college student who’s applied for financial aid in the past, you’re probably saying, “It’s about time.”

If you have a high school student preparing for college it may be more like, “I’ve never heard of the FAFSA and now there’s something else I have to worry about?”

Fear not. You’ve got time to figure out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the FAFSA will be your friend.

Here are the changes in a nutshell: Beginning in the fall of 2016, the FAFSA will be available earlier — Oct. 1st rather than Jan. 1st. In addition, the FAFSA will collect “prior prior” tax information from students and parents (for example, in 2016-2017, it will ask for completed 2015 tax returns rather than 2016 income estimates).

These will be the numbers used to generate the Student Aid Report and Expected Family Contribution. The earlier FAFSA availability date means that students applying to college can receive financial aid award offers sooner and use them to help make their college choice.

If you have a current high school senior, you will be less affected since the changes don’t happen until fall 2016 for the 2017-2018 academic year. Your senior will complete the FAFSA when it becomes available after Jan. 1st, 2016 for 2016-2017.

If you have a younger high school student, you definitely should take a look at how the FAFSA changes will affect your student’s timeline. For parents of all students, we highly recommend this lucid explanation by our friends at Admissionado:

“FAFSA Changes: A Brief Background and Action Plan for Parents.”

Find more information about applying for financial aid and guidance on completing the FAFSA and CSS/Profile in the “Managing Finances” section of the UniversityParent website.

Did you enjoy reading this article? Sign up for UniversityParent’s new High School Parent eNews and purchase the Guide to Supporting Your Student’s Freshman Year for a preview of what’s ahead. You can also add to the discussion and get feedback from fellow High School parents by joining our High School Parent Facebook group.

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