FAFSA App Now Open Oct 1.

Glenn Rohrbacker

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Students applying for federal financial aid can now start their applications three months earlier. The new Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) opening date for applications will be October 1 giving students extra time to submit their financial information, and prepare to apply to schools. The White House is announcing new changes to the process and updating the tools students can use to figure out their financial aid situation.

Included in this is general streamlining updates to the FAFSA online form, allowing students who have previously sent in tax information to auto-populate the form with that information, saving time in submitting everything that was submitted. There will also be improvements to the sign up and recovery process for users, which enhance security and save time.

The Obama Administration has increased financial awards and Pell grants from 2009 to 2014 and according to the Council of Economic Advisor’s Report, will see a 2:1 return on the investments made for college students. These returns will come in the form of over $20 billion in earnings.

The administration also increased the benefits given to college students and families by increasing the maximum amount for Pell grants by over $1,000. Also, the American Opportunity Tax Credit was established, which provides a maximum credit of $2,500 per year.

College aid was given to more than 2.5 million additional students due to these changes, and cut costs for families an average of $3,700 for nearly 8 million families overall. There were also $18 billion in tax cuts for families with students attending college.

The President and First Lady are urging students to fill out the FAFSA form this year and every year. In a recent Op-Ed in The FADER, she outlines the importance a college degree can be in a person’s life, sourcing her own experiences as a reference. She also talks about the advances made in college financial aid and how it can directly impact students’ lives.

Getting financial aid and going to college opened a lifetime’s worth of doors for me, my husband, and millions of people just like us all across the country,” she said.

In the last months of the Obama Administration, the White House is placing a large focus on their college initiatives, including highlighting the successes they have made in the past eight years. On Friday, September 30, 11 individuals were recognized at the White House “who have done important work in their own communities to strengthen access to higher education.”

These “Champions of Change for College Opportunity,” as they have been dubbed, have lead members of their community to and through college in order to show how it can have an important impact on their lives.

According to the White House Press Office, “through the President and First Lady’s Call-to-Action on College Opportunity since 2014, hundreds of schools, nonprofits, foundations, businesses, counselors, and other organizations have reported that they have already helped students access more than $5 billion in financial aid, enrolling 1 million more students in college, and setting 10 million more students on track to complete on time within the decade.”

A partnership with CollegeHumor has produced a new video featuring FLOTUS Michelle Obama participating in a “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” type show, focusing on the advantages that could be gained by applying for FAFSA.

The University of New Haven’s Financial Aid Department is in the process of finalizing information and policies for the 2017-2018 school year. The U.N.H. priority FAFSA filing date for the 2017-18 academic year is January 1, 2017.

According to Financial Aid, “Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students will be required to report income and tax information from an earlier tax year. On the 2017–18 FAFSA, students—and their parent(s), if required—will report the 2015 income and tax information. This transition to earlier tax years means that families will no longer need to use estimated income tax information and may be able to retrieve their income and tax data directly from the IRS to populate the FAFSA through a process called IRS data retrieval.”

Financial Aid will be releasing additional information on the FAFSA changes in the coming weeks.

Glenn Rohrbacker, Editor-in-Chief

Glenn Rohrbacker is a junior at the University of New Haven studying communications with a concentration in journalism and minors in Political Science...

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FAFSA App Now Open Oct 1.