This year, students and families will be able to apply for financial aid months ahead of time, with an earlier release of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This important change, spurred by President Barack Obama’s September 2015 executive action, better aligns the admissions and financial aid processes, and gives students and their parents more time to make informed decisions about attending college.
With the use of prior-prior year (PPY) income data, the FAFSA will now be available in October, rather than January, giving students and families more time to make a plan to pay for college. A new video produced by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) explains how the change will positively affect students. By making the FAFSA available to students sooner, the administration opened the doors for colleges and universities to give information about financial aid packages sooner in the admissions process. This way, students will not be as pressed for time when deciding on a college, and will know how much aid they can expect before having to make a final decision. Realigning the FAFSA timing also simplifies the financial aid application, allowing families to import their income information directly from their previous year’s tax returns.
“Applying to college and trying to secure financial aid can be a stressful process for some, but the early FAFSA release date will allow students to get a better handle on their federal grant aid eligibility earlier in the process,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “The change also means more students will be able to utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when applying, which paves the way for further simplification efforts down the road.”
As students prepare to complete the FAFSA starting October 1, a dedicated group of financial aid professionals from across the country has been hard at work as members of the NASFAA PPY Implementation Task force developing a toolkit to aid students, families, and financial aid offices in this transition. In addition to helpful videos explaining how PPY and the Early FAFSA will impact students, families, and schools, the PPY Toolkit has news, research, guidance, and other resources to help support a smooth transition, and better communicate why this change is important.
An open letter from the PPY Implementation Task Force, for example, explains the benefits of moving to PPY income and the Early FAFSA. An explanatory chart also clearly lays out what will change on the FAFSA moving forward, and what will stay the same.
NASFAA’s experts are on hand to discuss why filing the FAFSA correctly is critical, as well as steps policymakers can take to make the process even simpler in the future. To speak to a NASFAA expert, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-785-6959.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit www.nasfaa.org.
Publication Date: 4/28/2016