The federal government has established two significant modifications to its financial aid policy for the 2017-18 school year.
Registration for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is now available for applicants during the fall semester. Students could register as early as October, as opposed to applying in January.
“By having the FAFSA done sooner, schools can offer aid sooner,” said John Kerr, financial aid and scholarships coordinator. “This will allow students to make earlier financial decisions about college.”
In addition to earlier registration, FAFSA now calls for a tax return from the previous two years, which allows the acceptance of older tax data to be used. This change is designed to give a more accurate assessment of a family’s financial status, and provide more benefits for applicants.
“Studies seems to think this will be an advantage to students,” Kerr said. “Using income information from two years prior should mean that, for many students, we are calculating aid from information that is likely lower than it is today (cost of living increases, raises, promotions, etc.).”
Some students who receive financial aid have had mixed views about the changes in the Financial Aid Office.
“Sounds pretty, pretty good with the deadline extension, but the whole part about the taxes: I don’t care about it; I’m not in favor of it,” said Godwill Nkemka, management junior. “It seems like it makes it harder for students to get loans.”
Because this is the first year the new FASFA policy is implemented, students have raised questions as to how beneficial it will be.
“I think requiring two year(s) of taxes can make it more of a burden on people who are estranged from their parents, although, I’m sure they have special exemptions for stuff like that,” said Riley Calkins, management senior.
Calkins said with an earlier time of registration, students might have the opportunity for increased funding.
“I think giving more people more time to register is going to give you a better idea of who is the more ‘go-getter’ in the financial aid process. So somebody who turns in their paperwork early might be more motivated to get better grades and (be) more deserving of increased funding,” Calkins said. “So I think it provides a better way of looking at things.
This article was updated Jan. 6 at 4:25 p.m. to say the federal government made the changes to FAFSA, and FAFSA now calls for a tax return from the previous two years, which allows the acceptance of older tax data to be used.