Starting on Oct. 1, prospective college students will be able to access and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — commonly known as FAFSA — for the 2017-18 school year. That’s three months earlier than the usual date and is part of an initiative by the Obama Administration to provide timely financial aid information to high school students and their families.
U.S. Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. spoke with us about how exactly this decision will help.
On the issue this earlier deadline is trying to resolve:
Well, one of the challenges is that families need good information about how much aid they will be able to get in order to make decisions about colleges. And by moving the opening date for FAFSA filing up to Oct. 1, families will be able to get earlier information about the aid for which they are eligible.
On how the new rule will work:
On Oct. 1, folks will be able to download information directly from their tax return from the prior year. So this year, folks will be able to use their 2015 tax information to complete the FAFSA. That should simplify the process greatly for families and students.
On whether FAFSA has been a barrier to aid for some students:
Well, we certainly know that there are folks who are eligible for Pell Grants, for example...who haven't taken advantage of those Pell Grant dollars because they didn't complete the FAFSA. We also know there are students who, from year to year within college, will forget or fail to complete the FAFSA — to keep their aid in there subsequent years after their freshman year. So our hope is that by making the process simpler, folks who should be getting aid will be able to take advantage of those opportunities. We know college remains the best investment one can make in one's future.
Click the above audio player to hear the full interview.