The date to submit the FAFSA for financial aid begins on October 1 . . . are you ready?  Financial AidThere is no doubt the new date can lead to confusion.  How does the timeline fit into college awarding?  Why do they use the term “prior-prior year” to describe the origin of financial data?  Can I just file later?

While we can’t address every change to the process, we will take a moment to touch on a few of them along with at least one specific that has not changed that continues to be a critical aspect in the process.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is when you should apply.  Yes, the date has changed, but when has not! The answer to filing, as it always has been, is do it early!  Federal aid is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.  When it’s gone, it’s gone!  So don’t delay.

The biggest change has come in what tax-year to use for financial data.  They use the term “prior-prior year” to describe which financial data.  For instance, a student beginning college in the fall of 2017, would use their 2015 tax returns for completing the FASFA.

New to the process is the need for everyone to obtain a FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID).  Both students and parents must create separate FSA ID’s in filing the FASFA.

Many colleges and universities understand the impact of this new filing date as it relates to their financial aid awarding and admissions acceptances.  However, there are some institutions that are still determining their own timelines.  Best practice is to be totally aware of those colleges in consideration to make the best decision.

If you are having trouble with the process, there are people who can assist like high school guidance offices and many IEC’s (Independent Educational Consultants) or CCPS’s (Certified College Planning Specialists) across the country.

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