October Marks Significant Changes to College Financial Aid Process

New FAFSA rules will affect how families access federal and school aid

September 28, 2016 01:48 PM Eastern Daylight Time

WILMINGTON, Del.--()--While the new school year has started, there are some important changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process that current and aspiring college students, as well as their parents, need to know.

Scholarships, grants, and federal student loans in the student's name should be the first external funding options that families look to when budgeting for college. The FAFSA is the gateway to that available money from federal and state governments, as well as most colleges and universities, so understanding what is changing is critical.

First and foremost, students can now submit the completed FAFSA three months earlier than in previous years. Instead of the traditional January 1 open date, applications for the 2017-2018 school year will be accepted as early as October 1, 2016.

Don't wait to file. No fewer than ten states award student grants on a first-come, first-served basis. Students who filed the FAFSA in the first three months of it becoming available have historically received more than twice the grant aid of those who filed later. (See more tips to maximize your eligibility)

The second big change with the FAFSA this year pertains to the annual income you report. In the past, the FAFSA required students (and parents, if necessary) to report income information from the previous year's taxes. When the FAFSA opened on January 1, completed tax information for the prior year was typically not available yet. As a result, income details often had to be estimated and then corrected later.

With the latest updates, families are required to use completed tax information from the "prior, prior year." In other words, if you are applying for financial aid for the 2017-2018 school year, you will report income information from the 2015 tax year.

One advantage of using an earlier tax year is convenience. Instead of estimating information only to correct it later, you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and import completed tax information directly to the FAFSA, which saves a lot of time and ensures that the data entered is accurate.

"The changes to the FAFSA filing process are important to know because the earlier you file, the better opportunity you have to receive the maximum aid," said Joe DePaulo, Co-founder and CEO of College Ave Student Loans. "The amount of federal and state financial aid you qualify for directly affects your strategy for paying for college."

College Ave Student Loans provides many tools for families to ensure they are well informed of the options. Check out the 10 Common FAFSA Errors to Avoid and our Simple Guide to Completing the FAFSA – they're both packed with great tips to help you complete the process and maximize the aid you receive.

About College Ave Student Loans
College Ave Student Loans is simplifying the student loan experience so students can get on with what matters most: preparing for a bright future. As a fintech lending company with a sole focus on private student loans, we're using technology and our deep industry expertise to connect families who need to cover education costs with lenders who can provide that funding. By specializing in student loans, we are able to give our customers the attention they deserve and deliver loans that are simple, clear, and personalized for the individual: we help you find your perfect fit. We offer competitive rates, a wide range of repayment options, and a customer-friendly experience from application through repayment. Visit www.collegeavestudentloans.com..

Contacts
College Ave Student Loans
Angela Colatriano, 302-684-6066
acolatriano@collegeave.com
or
Duffy & Shanley, Inc.
Tina Malott, 401-278-4407
tmalott@duffyshanley.com