North Texas Daily

FAFSA process to be less difficult for students

FAFSA process to be less difficult for students

A student holds financial aid brochures outside the UNT financial aid office. Meagan Sullivan | Staff Photographer

FAFSA process to be less difficult for students
October 15
00:37 2015

Linda Kessler | Copy Editor

@LindaKessler

Students applying for financial aid will be able to file and receive FAFSA awards earlier than usual if changes announced by President Barack Obama take effect for the 2017-18 academic year.

Changes will include allowing students to submit FAFSA applications sooner and letting them use earlier income tax information. For the 2017-18 school year, students will be able to file their FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016 rather than the previous date of Jan. 1, 2017.

This means for the 2016 calendar year students will file two FAFSAs: the first on Jan. 1, 2016 for the 2016-17 academic year and the second on Oct. 1, 2016 for the 2017-18 academic year.

The other major change to the FAFSA process allows students to use income tax information from the “prior-prior” year, meaning students filing for 2017-18 aid will be able to use tax data from 2015.

This change will allow many students to use the IRS data retrieval tool when filing their FAFSA because the tax information they are using has already been processed.

“Moving to ‘prior-prior’ tax information will eliminate students and their parents from having to delay completion of the FAFSA because of their tax situation,” said Lacey Thompson, director of operations for UNT Student Financial Aid and Scholarships. “Being able to access the tax information from the IRS when a family is ready to complete a FAFSA will hopefully positively impact FAFSA completion rates throughout the nation.”

According to a White House Office of the Press Secretary fact sheet, millions of enrolled college students who would be eligible for federal aid don’t even apply. They believe this is due to the Jan. 1 FAFSA start date and the timing of tax season.

Thompson said UNT SFAS anticipates the changes to positively impact both incoming and continuing students.

“Incoming students would be informed of their financial aid awards earlier, which could help them make their decisions earlier on where they want to attend,” Thompson said. “Continuing students would be able to make plans earlier for future semesters if they knew their financial aid awards earlier.”

Vice president for enrollment Shannon Goodman said there’s a “wait and see” aspect to how these FAFSA changes will impact UNT and its students.

“Our hope is that it improves timeliness of students being able to file and us being able to get information back to them. The key is still in the students… they still need to be vigilant themselves in ensuring they complete the process,” Goodman said. “But certainly it has an advantage, in theory, for students and families to understand how much aid they’re going to get, what the cost is and what they need to plan for.”

Universities across the nation are aware of the FAFSA changes, but as for the implementation of those changes and the effects they will have, they are still looking for answers from the U.S. Department of Education.

Goodman anticipates information from the Department of Education at the December Federal Student Aid Conference. She said UNT will send representatives to the FSA conference, as it does every year.

“We are constantly trying to stay connected and make sure we have the latest information,” Goodman said. “I would say I hope to hear earlier than December. The more lead time we have, the better prepared we can be and the better we can mend our processes and provide the best services for students.”

Featured Image: File Photo 

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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