Student aid filing made easier, earlier

The time has come for seniors to start applying for scholarships and colleges, and the Federal government has just made it a bit easier for them by changing a few things regarding getting student aid.

   The FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the way for students to receive financial help for college from the federal government, and is based on their family’s tax returns. The FAFSA is also a gateway to many scholarships, as they require students to fill out their FAFSA form and submit their student aid report to them.

  “The biggest change is called prior prior year. That means instead of using the year before’s taxes to base the information on, it will be the year before that,” said counselor Laura Cooke.

  This means that students of the Class of 2017 will use their 2015 tax return instead of the 2016 returns for 2017 federal aid programs. This allows students to get the form completed earlier, as they don’t have to wait for their parents to go file their 2016 taxes before applying.

  The other change complements the prior prior year change by changing the opening date of the FAFSA from January 1 to October 1. This allows students to file for aid three months earlier and use 2015 taxes, which everyone should already have.

  Cooke said these changes will benefit students as “they will be able to go in, use their prior prior year tax return, and be able to do it earlier, so a lot of students are going to be able to compare colleges straight away.”

  “I think it’s very important for students to fill it out. You can get free money based on your family’s financial standing. I think everyone should fill it out,” senior Noah Long said.

  Long plans to fill out the FAFSA, as he says any financial help he can get with college, he’ll take.

  Senior Ashlee Kuykendall feels it’s more convenient.

   “Students and parents can send in their income information earlier, and since they can use their income from the previous year, I feel it’s more convenient,” said Kuykendall.

  Cooke’s best advice for students is to watch their emails, as she will be sending out important information regarding scholarships and deadlines.

  “They need to know what the FAFSA deadlines are for their colleges, and a lot of times, students are not looking at their emails, and so they say they didn’t know,” said Cooke. “Senior year just goes by so fast and there’s a lot of things that need to be decided on the student’s part like where they’re going and how much it’s going to cost them, and scholarships are going to be sent through the school email.”