The FAFSA Officially Kicks Off College Financial Aid Season and
It’s the Ticket to More than $150 Billion in Grants, Work-Study, and
Federal Student Loans
Sallie Mae Offers Tips and Resources to Help Families Navigate the
Process and Understand Important Changes to the FAFSA
NEWARK, Del.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Reminder for families with students heading to college next year: Oct.
1, 2016, is 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 their financial aid application 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.
“Early October is the perfect time to take a few moments and get your
FAFSA ticket punched,” said Martha Holler, senior vice president, Sallie
Mae. “Admissions application season will be in full swing come November,
so families can get the FAFSA out of the way before then. They’ll also
have the advantages of finding out earlier what types of aid may be
available and having more time to evaluate financial options before the
admissions process closes.”
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 — the 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.
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,
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.
Ellen J. Roberts, 302-451-0428