New FAFSA Rules: What Students Need to Know

Federal student loan reform has been a hot topic among educators and politicians over the past few years. In most cases, the call for reform involves the terms and conditions on which loans are awarded, but there also proponents of making college free to attend for everyone.  

However, unless colleges and universities stop charging tuition, some students will need government loans to make it to the halls of higher learning. Receiving those loans starts with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as the FAFSA.      

New FAFSA Rules Benefit Students

You won’t find many students (or parents) who enjoy completing the FAFSA; it can be a long, dry process, but two recently announced changes should make completing the application more palatable: the opportunity to submit a FAFSA earlier than before, and the chance to use earlier income information for the application.

Earlier Submission

The new submission rule allows students to apply for financial aid nine months ahead of when their courses begin. For example, for classes taking place from July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018, students can apply for aid via FAFSA beginning October 1, 2016.  It is important to note, each college may have a different deadline as to when the FAFSA should be filed. Check with the college(s) you are interested in attending. You may also want to ask your college about its definition of an application deadline – whether it is the date the college receives your FAFSA, or the date your FAFSA is processed.

Government officials believe the new rule will give students three benefits: more time to consider financial aid options, more time to apply before deadlines, and a better alignment of the college application and admission processes.

Earlier Income

The second change is that students can use an earlier proof of income than before. According to government officials, “Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students will report income information from an earlier tax year.” For example, for the 2017–18 FAFSA students will list 2015 income instead of what they or their parents earned in 2016.

With this change, the main benefit is the financial certainty that students or their guardians have when reporting income. There’s no need to “estimate income or taxes paid” for the current year.

Need a Loan for College?              

If so, you may find that our Student Choice Loan program is the right option for funding your education, either in addition to or in place of other loan options you may be considering. To find out, call us today at (800) 325-9905, or use our contact form, to schedule a free appointment. In the meantime, check out our online resources to learn more about a Student Choice Loan.     

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