October FAFSA submission to reduce pressure for college students

October FAFSA submission to reduce pressure for college students

Source: NASFAA.org

Much pressure will soon be lifted from the shoulders of new and current college students as they can fill out a Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2017-2018 school year beginning Oct. 1, 2016.

The permanent change was announced by President Barack Obama in 2015 and will allow students to submit a FAFSA as early as Oct. 1 instead of Jan. 1 for every school year. Students will also use earlier tax information when completing the forms. For example, a student filling out the FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year would include 2015 income information rather than 2016 income information, according to StudentAid.gov.

Staff in Lee University’s financial aid office encourage students to fill out the FAFSA as soon as it becomes available, with hopes that earlier submission will make the process easier, according to Marian Dill, the director of financial aid.

“I think it will alleviate stress because the tax information should already be complete,” Dill said. “We’re strongly encouraging students to use what’s called the IRS data retrieval tool, [which] greatly simplifies the FAFSA because they literally move the data from the IRS computer system to the FAFSA computer system.”

Students will still be required to fill out a new FAFSA every year and may also be selected for verification from the U.S. Department of Education or by their school. Some colleges may adjust their FAFSA processing timelines due to the FAFSA becoming available three months earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Lee’s priority deadline is now Feb. 1, so as long as students submit a FAFSA between Oct. 1, 2016 and Feb. 1, 2017 they will be in the first awarded group, Dill said.

“Once the limited funding is gone, it’s gone,” she said. “In order to maximize that aid, students will want to meet that February 1 deadline because it could change some of their eligibility, and it could reduce some of the aid that they get.”

Students can receive help with completing the FAFSA in the financial aid office and are encouraged to look for announcements about financial aid workshops coming up soon.

“I would encourage students to apply early, and if they have questions, either call us, email us or stop by the financial aid office so that hopefully we can work with them,” Dill said. “We want to see students be successful, and we want students to not be stressed out about the financial aid process.”

Lee’s financial aid office is located in the Centenary Building and can be contacted at 423-614-8300 or at finaid@leeuniversity.edu.

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