New Timeline for Filing FAFSA Takes Students by Surprise

New Timeline for Filing FAFSA Takes Students by Surprise
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Changes in federal law mean a new timeline to apply for college financial aid.
The changes are taking some students by surprise.

The fall semester is only about a month underway but college students need to worry now about financial aid. Filing begins October first.

A surprise for Missouri Southern State University freshmen Austin Henady and Skyler Lewis. “Really! ” exclaimed Austin. ” To file for financial aid, ” questioned Skyler. ” Cool! Didn ‘ t know that, but cool,” said Austin.
Tracey Fisher, an MSSU sophomore questioned the date, “We have to apply like right now, for next year?”

MSSU Financial Aid Director Becca Diskin explained, “It used to be January first, now it ‘ s October first. So, it just moves the timeline up for everybody.”

The change is also big for high school seniors.
Ashtyn Turner said, “I knew it was something I needed to do, but I wasn ‘ t sure when or how to do it.”

The timeline change also moves up by three months the priority deadlines to capture Missouri State grant dollars from April first to now, February first. Those who wait to apply might not qualify.

Marda Schroeder is a counselor at Joplin high school and explained, ” There ‘ s a pie based on federal dollars universities receive. They award that as the applications come in so if you wait to late that ‘ s why we call it priority deadlines. If someone misses that February deadline, to fill out FAFSA, doesn ‘ t mean they won ‘ t receive financial aid, if eligible. It just means there may not be as much of that pie left.”

Filing the FAFSA should be faster and easier though, because the government will use your prior year ‘ s tax information. That’s 2015’s this time.

Skyler approved saying, ” Yeah, that would be a whole lot easier cause we wouldn ‘ t have to wait for our 2016 taxes to do it.”

Joplin high school counselors have arranged for MSSU financial aid officers to be at the high school during parent teachers conferences in October to help parents with filing the FAFSA. They say the end goal is students know which colleges they can afford.

Schroeder said, ” That can help them, because they might get their award letters from schools sooner and have a better idea of what the cost of college is going to be. And it might help them make a decision as to what school they want to attend.

For some it ‘ s what allows them to attend at all.

Quinten Sargent, an MSSU sophomore said, “Financial aid ‘ s important! That ‘ s how I go to school.”

The Internal Revenue Service now links to the FAFSA. So a family’s information is already embedded in there.They simply have to grant permission to import it into the FAFSA.