Applying for federal financial aid for college is a stressful and time-consuming process. The great news is there are new FAFSA rules in place starting this year that will make the application process simpler and less stressful for your college-bound kid.
1. You can file the FAFSA earlier: Students who plan to attend college in the fall of 2017, can now file their FAFSA application as early as October 2016. Before, the start date for applications was January 1st. October will be the start date going forward.
2. Submit Tax Data from 2 Years Prior: Before this change was implemented students had to use their parents’ tax returns for the previous year. Some even had to wait past the January start date to use the tax returns for that year. This slowed down the decision process, and caused students to have to wait and see if they would receive financial aid for the following school year. For high school students, this meant that they may have to apply for schools without knowing if they were eligible for financial aid. With the new rule, students applying for the 2017-2018 school year can use their parents’ 2015 tax returns.
3. Complete the Forms With Ease: The IRS now has a great retrieval tool, which allows you to import data from tax returns to the FAFSA application. This tool saves you a lot of time and hassle from trying to round-up tax documents.
4. Get Your Financial Aid Sooner: With the old January start date, students didn’t find out about the type of financial aid package they were eligible for until March or April. Since the application start date is much earlier, students and their parents now have more time to budget college expenses before they make a choice of college in May.
In order to plan a successful budget, it is important to discuss your options with a financial adviser. For questions on the new FAFSA rules, contact us today! Nothing is more important than planning for the future of your college-bound kid, and we want to be there every step of the way!