Wednesday, July 19, 2017— Those concerned about a recent move to using tax information from two years prior on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can rest a little easier, according to new data from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).
The October 2016 introduction of the “Early FAFSA” and the use of prior-prior year (PPY) income data was intended to allow colleges to deliver financial aid award information earlier, and give students and families more time and better information to use when planning for and selecting a college.
One of the chief concerns among some advocates was that higher education institutions might move admissions or financial aid application deadlines earlier, a shift that could negatively and disproportionately impact lower-income students, who tend to apply for aid later in the process.
The findings from a May 2017 survey of NASFAA member institutions showed that for schools that provided admissions and/or financial aid application priority-filing deadlines for 2016-17 and 2017-18, the overwhelming majority did not change their deadline. Schools that did change their priority deadlines indicated they did so to give students and their families more time to review aid offers.
The survey was designed to assess the implementation of Early FAFSA and allow NASFAA’s PPY Implementation Task Force—a group comprised solely of experienced financial aid practitioners—to offer recommendations on Early FAFSA and PPY that will help ensure the program is on sound footing going forward.
“The survey shows us that schools are approaching this timing change cautiously and taking special care not to make any moves that would disenfranchise the exact cohort of students that most need financial aid help,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “Bringing PPY online is a multiyear process, and while burden on colleges has understandably increased during this transitional year, students have largely experienced a smooth implementation.”
The survey also found that under PPY and Early FAFSA, one-third of schools sent their merit (non-need-based) scholarship decisions with their offer of admission, something that was more difficult before the recent policy change.
Several respondents indicated that despite sending out financial aid award letters much earlier than in previous years, they did not see students making their admissions decisions significantly earlier. The cause of this delayed decision making is unknown, but could be the result of several factors including:
Overall, the majority of survey respondents indicated that they felt the implementation of PPY was generally successful overall, when excluding the unanticipated effects of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) outage.
To learn more about PPY, Early FAFSA, or the work of the PPY Implementation Task Force, please visit NASFAA’s PPY Toolkit.
Questions or interview requests regarding this report or our PPY Implementation Task Force may be directed to Erin Powers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: 7/19/2017