Recent changes to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), developed by the U.S. Department of Education, now give students more options with less rigidity in the filing process. Though the March 10 deadline has not changed, families are now able to use their 2015 income tax returns, rather than waiting for their 2016 tax return, which had previously created a time crunch resulting in students failing to file the FAFSA in time. Many colleges require FAFSA information to determine institutional financial aid, and students without a FAFSA on file cannot receive state or federal financial aid. Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said about the new flexibility, “Indiana has one of most generous need-based financial aid systems in the country, and removing some of the barriers for students who apply for financial aid will help more qualify for both state and federal dollars to attend college and earn a degree.” This year’s 2017-2018 FAFSA filing season also opened on October 1st, 2016, compared to the previous annual opening date of January 1st. Because the season has been adjusted to open earlier, families can use the previous year’s tax information. For other helpful information about how to pay for college, visit this article at WREBfm.com.
The first step for students who have never filed a FAFSA is to visit FSAID.ed.gov to create an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). Students who already have an FSA ID should visit FAFSA.gov to begin their applications. Beware of FAFSA application websites that do not contain the .gov domain and may not secure your private information.