Mark the Calendar: Applying for College Financial Aid Now Begins Oct. 1 with the Release of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

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Sallie Mae Offers Tips and Resources to Help Families Navigate the
Process and Understand Important Changes to the FAFSA

NEWARK, Del.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–For families with students heading to college next year, there’s a new
date to circle on the calendar: Oct. 1, 2016. That’s the new release
date for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the
gateway to more than $150 billion in grants, work-study funds,
and federal student loans. Schools use the FAFSA to put together
financial aid packages, states use it to determine student eligibility
for state aid, and some scholarships require it as part of their
application.


Sallie Mae, the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college
company, has created an online
library
of tips, tools, and resources and a visual
to help families navigate the FAFSA process for academic year 2017-18,
understand some additional changes designed to simplify the application,
and prepare to complete it.

Here’s what families need to know about this year’s changes:

  • For the first time, the FAFSA will be available on Oct. 1; that’s
    three months earlier.
    Why it’s important: some financial aid is
    awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, or from programs with
    limited funds, so the earlier families fill out the FAFSA, the better
    the chance to be in line for that aid. Families can get a head start
    on the process by creating their Federal Student Aid ID username and
    password at www.fafsa.gov.
  • Families will use their 2015 tax information. Why it’s
    important: This will simplify the process, as families will no
    longer need to estimate their taxes to complete the FAFSA, or put off
    completing it until they file their 2016 taxes. Asking families to use
    their 2015 tax return, or what the Department of Education calls
    “prior-prior year” tax information, also means more families will be
    able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which saves time by importing
    tax information directly into the FAFSA.
  • Completing the FAFSA earlier means families can receive critical
    information like the
    Student
    Aid Report (SAR)
    sooner. Why it’s important: The SAR
    includes the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC), which provides a
    clearer picture about eligibility for financial aid as families begin
    applying to colleges. In addition, families who complete and submit
    the FAFSA soon after Oct. 1 may receive financial aid award letters
    from schools earlier. Timing of award letters will vary by school, so
    families should check with financial aid offices and school websites
    for more information.

“The White House estimates that more than 2 million students who would
have been eligible for Pell grants and other financial aid did not
complete the FAFSA last year,” said Martha Holler, senior vice
president, Sallie Mae. “That’s 2 million too many. With a bunch of
financial information automatically filled for you, completing the
application is easier than ever. The only thing it costs you is a little
time.”

In addition to understanding changes, families should always remember
the following tips for completing the FAFSA:

  • Gather necessary information in advance. In addition to
    creating a username and password — Federal Student Aid ID — families
    will need Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank
    statements, 2015 tax returns, and W-2 forms. Having this information
    ready before Oct. 1 can expedite the process.
  • Complete the FAFSA as a high school senior — and every year in
    college.
    Filing a new FAFSA each year is the only way to remain
    eligible for federal student aid, and the amount of aid could change
    year-over-year. In addition, nearly every student is eligible for some
    form of financial aid, so it’s important all families complete it.
  • The easiest and fastest way to fill out a FAFSA is at www.fafsa.gov.
    Families who complete the FAFSA online usually receive their Student
    Aid Report in three to five days. And remember, filing the FAFSA is
    free. Never pay a fee to file the FAFSA, and make sure to file at www.fafsa.gov.
  • List schools on the FAFSA. Families will need to list at least
    one school on the FAFSA. Some state aid is based on the order of how
    schools are listed, so families should consider listing state schools
    first to be in line for state aid. Additional information, including
    state deadlines for completing the FAFSA, is available at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa.

Sallie Mae and Smart College Visit will host a Twitter chat on all
things FAFSA on Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. EDT. Use #CampusChat to participate.

To watch Sallie Mae’s “Beginner’s Guide to FAFSA” video, get additional
details about completing and submitting the FAFSA, and download the College
AheadSM Mobile App
to keep track of important deadlines,
visit www.salliemae.com/fafsa.

Sallie Mae (NASDAQ: SLM) is the nation’s saving, planning, and
paying for college company. Whether college is a long way off or just
around the corner, Sallie Mae offers products that promote responsible
personal finance, including private education loans, Upromise rewards,
scholarship search, college financial planning tools, and online retail
banking. Learn more at SallieMae.com.
Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are
not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

Contacts

Sallie Mae
Ellen J. Roberts, 302-451-0428
Ellen.Roberts@SallieMae.com