Faster filing

Changes to FAFSA ease application process

It’s that time of year. The days are getting shorter, shopping malls are bursting at the seams and in the wake of New Year’s Eve, you get to sit in front of a computer and apply for financial aid.

Each year, roughly 84 percent of Ferris undergraduates file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The application becomes available on Jan. 1 of each year, typically being filled out for the upcoming fall semester.

That changed in September, when President Barack Obama signed paperwork allowing prior-prior tax information to be used when filing the form, meaning rather than having to wait for parents and students to complete tax paperwork for the previous year, numbers from two years before can be used on the application.

“I think it’s more beneficial than anything,” said Ferris biotechnology freshman Jennifer Tran. “It gives people more time to prepare for the following year in terms of financial costs.”

In the past, the Financial Aid Office has encouraged students to estimate using a previous year’s numbers, but that is no longer necessary.

“Since prior year tax return information is readily available at the time of filing the FAFSA, more students and/or parents can utilize the data retrieval option which allows families to transfer their tax return information directly from the IRS,” Ferris Director of Financial Aid Sara Dew said. “More accurate FAFSA data means more accurate financial aid awards.”

For the 2017/2018 award year, the date on which the FAFSA can be filed has been moved from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1. Students will file their FAFSA in Jan. 2016 for the 2016/2017 award year and then again in Oct. 2016 for the 2017/2018 award year.

“If they can file a FAFSA on Oct. 1, then they could get financial aid information earlier which may help them to decide what the best fit for them is in determining which school to attend,” Dew said.