Students can apply for federal financial aid earlier

Changes coming to Federal Student Aid

BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Students who use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to receive college financial aid from the U.S. government can now apply earlier in order to give families more time to evaluate their college selection based on the aid given.

Students can now submit the application on October 1 of the previous year, instead of January 1 of the year they plan to attend school.

Assistant Vice President of Student Financial Services at the University of New England Paul Henderson said it should allow the college to return decisions on how much financial aid is awarded to each student.

"It will really afford time for them to get the guidance and the help that they need and I think it will lead to them making better choices," said Henderson. "This is going to be a benefit to the industry and to the families."

Families will also be able to use the two years prior tax information when applying using the Data Retrieval Tool through the IRS. In some cases, the old system asked families to estimate income, or wait until the new taxes had been filed.
 
Different colleges have different timelines for returning financial aid decisions, and some colleges award aid on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Henderson.

The Financial Authority of Maine plans to host free in-person help sessions across the state for families to learn about the FAFSA.

You can find a link to those sessions here.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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