By Brittany DeKorte
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, has undergone changes this year.
On Sept. 14, 2015, President Obama announced these changes would be coming, adding to the major overhauls he had pushed for to simplify the FAFSA process during his time as president.
“You won’t have to wait for your W-2s to arrive before you get started, so you can get a jump on the college application process,” President Obama said when he announced this change in front of a group of high school seniors in Des Moines, Iowa.
“The change applies to the 2017/18 award year, “ said Lori Trapp, WCC’s Director of FInancial Aid. “Starting on Oct. 1, students were able to complete their 17/18 FAFSA, and that’s a big change. Previously, it would come available on January first.”
The other major change to the FAFSA is what year of tax information students and their families get their information from.
“The other change has to do with the income, which year’s income families use when completing the FAFSA. It always had been the prior year, so for 16/17 you used 15 tax info, now you use what we call ‘the prior prior year.’ So for 17/18 you will again use your 201 tax info. What that allows students to do and is retrieve their information directly online from the IRS. That way that tax year is completely over, so all the information is available and they don’t have to wait until February or March or mid April for their tax information,” said Trapp.
A simpler process has been made, the click of button gathers information from prior tax years and pre-fills sections of the form, students are eager to have this opportunity. Yoko Danley-Hancock, who studies business at WCC, is very happy for the change.
“Now I can go fill the thing out and not have to wait on my mother, or take the time to fill out every line on the form,” Danley-Hancock said.
The financial aid office is dealing with the overlap between financial aid years; this time of year is usually dedicated to finishing up finance information from the previous year.
“We’ve had a few students in, some on the first day even, for next year’s FAFSA,” said Sam Messenger, a part time help desk worker at WCC’s financial aid office. “We’re just trying to point out the changes as much as we can right now and help people as they come.”