Applying for federal financial aid for college will be a little easier for millions of students and families next year, under a proposal announced by President Barack Obama on Monday, 9/14/2015.
The federal government will allow students to apply for college aid based on their family's income from two years earlier instead of the past year.
"This puts things in a logical timeline," said Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit policy and research organization. "It means students will be able to apply for aid earlier and more easily, and make better informed decisions about where to apply and how to pay for college." The institute had been urging lawmakers and presidential administrations to make this change since 2007
In an effort to make college more accessible to low-income families, the Obama administration is launching a new initiative to streamline the process of applying for federal student aid.
Starting in October 2016, aspiring college students will be able to access the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form in October rather than January using data from 2015 tax returns. Previously, students had to wait until at least January to fill out the student aid forms as their parents finalized their 2016 tax returns. They also can electronically retrieve and use the prior year's tax information, instead of waiting until the current year’s tax returns have been filed and processed. Under the current system, students find themselves with college acceptance letters that they don't yet know if they can pay for.
The changes will not only reduce “paperwork burdens for students and costs for colleges,” but they will also allow students to apply for aid “when or even before they apply to college,” Lauren Asher, president of The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), told The Washington Post