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College Corner: New FAFSA application processing available, Oct. 1

Use updated tools, 2015 tax returns for FAFSA

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[/media-credit] One of the biggest problems that students face is how they will pay for college.

Throughout my years working as an academic advisor, the number one stressor for families as it relates to college seems to be the financial burden. With college tuition rates on the rise, the reality is that most students end up making a decision on which college to attend based on the cost of tuition.

Money for college may come from a variety of sources but for many families, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is their path to making college a reality. With Cal Grants A, B, and C and the Middleclass Scholarship all using the this application to determine eligibility, it is important for all families to complete the FAFSA.

In hopes of alleviating some of the anxiety revolving around the FAFSA, the deadline has been moved up for families completing the 2017-18 FAFSA application (class of 2017 seniors). In the past students were not able to complete the application until January 1, whereas this year families can begin submitting it out as early as Oct. 1.

According to the pdf, College Students and Parents: What You Need to Know About the 2017-18 FAFSA (Student Aid), this date change will be a permanent one.

According to Bethany Rader, Student Financial Services Advisor-Traditional Undergraduate Students at Fresno Pacific University, “The other important thing for this year is the Prior Prior year.  For the 17/18 FAFSA students will use the 2015 Tax information.”

CollegeCorner
[/media-credit] Academic advisor Michelle Warkentin shares about how students should be dealing with FAFSA.

This will allow families to be more prepared when completing the form and allow them to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) right away instead of having to wait until their 2016 tax returns are complete. Because of this, Rader believes that students will be able to provide more accurate information on the FAFSA and will hear back from the institutions sooner than in past years. This could also mean less paperwork for families to complete.

To be eligible for a Cal Grant, both the FAFSA and the Cal Grant GPA Verification Form must be submitted by March 2. For Fresno Christian students, the GPA Verification Form will be completed by the school. Important steps to the financial aid process and notification timeline can be found at CSAC.

Rader’s main advice for students is to apply and ask questions. “Too many times people assume they won’t qualify so they just don’t do it, but you never know, you could.  Also ask all of your questions.  The other very important date to watch out for is the March 2 deadline for Cal Grant.”

For families who are submitting the FAFSA for the first time, information workshops are being hosted across the valley from October 1 to March 2. Local Cash for College workshops can be located at Cash 4 College. Don’t miss out on this important step in the college application process, it could be the determining factor in your college decision and end up saving you thousands of dollars.

 

For last year’s FAFSA article read, College Corner: Managing the FAFSA.

For the last College Corner article read, College Corner: Summer Plans.

For another article read, Transition to high school, new challenges occur.

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