The 2018-2019 FAFSA Just Opened. Here's What You Need to Know This Year

"The beginning of the annual college financial aid application season is here. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA, is available for the 2018-2019 school year beginning today, October 1," according to Money.

"You can fill in some FAFSA information automatically, but the process has changed.

About that change we mentioned earlier: For a few years now, FAFSA filers have been able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically transfer pertinent income information from tax returns into the financial aid form. This was especially important last year, when a rule change meant families could use older tax information on the form.

The tool was a big deal because it meant that, in theory, you could breeze through several of the FAFSA questions, reducing the time it took to file the form—and eliminating many errors.

But in March, the tool was taken down after identity thieves tried to use it to steal information, and the Department of Education has said the tool will be up and running when the FAFSA opens for business. It will work a bit differently, though. To solve for the privacy concerns, the process will now be a "blind submission." Instead of seeing the income numbers that are being pulled in from the the IRS, you'll simply see a note that data was transferred from the IRS. You will not be able to review or change that information.

The information will be coming directly from the IRS, however, notes Erin Powers, spokeswoman for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators—so if families are confident they filed their tax return correctly, they should be comfortable knowing the tax information being imported is correct.

It's still unclear whether many colleges will adjust their own financial aid timelines.

After the FAFSA release date moved up three months last year, the big question what whether colleges were going to send out earlier award notices—which would give families more time to compare financial aid offers and weigh how much a given college would cost.

So far, a majority of colleges haven't made large changes. But 21% of private four-year colleges did move up their priority aid deadline for regular application students by one or two months, and 15% of public four-year colleges did, according to a survey from NASFAA."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.

 

Publication Date: 10/3/2017

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