Colleges and the federal government continue to find ways to make applying for federal financial aid for college simpler. This year, students and their parents can fill out the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) starting on October 1, several months earlier than before.
As a result of this earlier release of the FAFSA, some colleges may issue financial packages to students earlier. In the past, students could begin to file a FAFSA only after January 1 and the earliest they were likely to receive a financial aid package was in late February. Depending on the college’s enrollment deadlines, that sometimes gave families fewer than 60 days to make a decision.
Learning sooner the estimated amount of aid students will receive gives them more time to evaluate what their actual college costs will be and explore ways to make the investment. Students also will have more time to arrange for visits and speak with admissions and financial aid counselors, so they can more thoughtfully choose the college that’s the best fit for them based on all factors.
Along with allowing students to apply earlier, the FAFSA now asks for income information from two years prior to a student’s anticipated enrollment period, instead of one year prior. For example, for students applying for the 2017-18 academic year, the income and tax information required for the FAFSA will be from the family’s 2015 federal (IRS) tax return.
Since virtually all taxpayers have already filed 2015 federal taxes, families who submit the FAFSA early will no longer have to estimate income information and then go back later to update the FAFSA once taxes are filed. This will save time and stress for students and their parents, and prevent unexpected changes in aid that may come with updated forms. Additionally, most students and parents will be able to use the time-saving IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) embedded within the FAFSA. The DRT transfers IRS income and tax data directly from the IRS to the FAFSA, increasing accuracy and simplifying the FAFSA process.
The admissions and financial aid counselors at Lycoming College are happy to answer any questions families may have about applying for financial aid, potential scholarships and enrollment. For Lycoming College, contact 570-321-4026.
Learn more about Lycoming College’s Financial Aid options: http://www.lycoming.edu/financialAid/
Learn more about the changes to the FAFSA:
Apply now for federal student aid: https://fafsa.ed.gov/
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need an FSA ID?
To ensure logins are secure, the FSA ID is unique to every person including one for the student and one for the parent. It is important to realize you must have a separate one for the student and one for the parent or guardian. If applying together for the FSA ID and using the same computer, you should wait 24 hours to apply for the second one, or, you can use a separate machine. Be sure to use different email addresses and we recommend a desktop device versus a mobile device.
What happens if I am not in the control of my parents (ward of the state, being raised by grandparent/guardians, etc.)?
The FAFSA purposefully has questions that will help to define those elements and will get the student in the correct channel for application.
Are merit or scholarship deadlines moving too?
Each college handles merit or academic scholarships differently. It is important to look at their individual financial aid websites to get the information you need.
Are priority filing deadlines moving?
Each college handles merit or academic scholarships differently. It is important to look at their individual financial aid websites to get the information you need. Penn College has changed its FAFSA priority submission deadline to March 1.
Will I be eligible for state aid if I don’t apply for the FAFSA?
No, you must complete the FAFSA in order to be considered for Pennsylvania state grant funds. New students who are Pennsylvania residents should look for the link to apply for Pennsylvania state-based financial aid from their FAFSA confirmation page as soon as they submit their FAFSA. This link will direct them to PHEAA’s (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency) State Grant Form to apply for state aid.