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Personal Finance

What to Know About Important College Financial Aid Changes

August 31st, 2016 | 1 min. read

By Jacob Schroeder

financial aid FAFSA changesThese days, it seems as if the cost of some things are always rising: gas, movie tickets…and college tuition.

Consider that the average cost of tuition and fees at public, four-year schools this school year was about $9,139, according to the College Board. The cost in current dollars in1971? Less than $500!

Tuition increases have made the financial goal of saving for a child’s college education harder to achieve. Which is why every year a greater number of students and their families – even those with high incomes – seek college financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

September is National College Savings Month, which makes it a great time get acquainted with two important changes coming to FAFSA. Starting this fall:

  1. Students will be able to file for aid beginning Oct. 1—a full three months earlier than the previous January 1 starting date.
  2. For the first time, applicants will use prior-prior year (PPY) tax information when reporting personal and family income.

college tuition costsThat means a student applying for aid for the 2017-2018 school year will use his or her family’s 2015 tax information. It also means parents no longer have to rush to complete their tax forms in time to submit FAFSA forms.

These changes allow students more time to choose a school and to provide more accurate information. Deadlines are often missed when income has to be verified.

Even with the additional time, however, you and your student should submit your application as soon as possible. The federal government awards roughly $150 billion annually to more than 13 million college students through need-based grants, loans, and work-study funds. Money is limited in some in­stances, so it’s important not to delay.

Now that you know applying for college financial aid has gotten a little easier, what can you do to help your child graduate without a mountain of debt?

Learn proven ways to cut college costs by watching the replay of Advance Capital’s college planning webinar presented by special guest speaker and col­lege expert, Lynn O'Shaughnessy. Feel free to share this complimentary webi­nar information with your family and friends who have teen or even pre-teen children!

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 Watch Now!