New FAFSA rules eliminate past financial aid application difficulties

Catherine Marfin

For students starting college in the fall of 2017, a streamlined application aims to make applying for federal financial aid easier.

On Sept. 14, the Obama administration announced an update to the schedule for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. When the new rules go into effect next fall, students planning on entering college in 2017 will be able to apply for federal aid as early as October and receive their federal aid award information early that same fall. The new schedule aims to alleviate the financial stresses students experience during the college application process. Prior to this updated schedule, students did not have access to the FAFSA application until January, and did not receive their federal aid information until late spring, long after they had applied to college. The new schedule will allow students and families to view federal aid information much earlier.

Carolina Arroyo, a senior at Louis D. Brandeis High School in San Antonio, Texas, said she feels the new FAFSA schedule will help alleviate the already stressful college application process.

“It’s already so overwhelming trying to apply to college in the first place,” Arroyo said. “It’s comforting to know that earlier information will prevent students from picking a college and finding out later that they aren’t able to go.”

An expanded College Scorecard, which includes information about s school’s tuition, degrees and graduation rates, was released Sept. 12, just days before the federal government announced the change in the federal aid schedule. The expanded scorecard and the new FAFSA rules will help families to make more informed decisions about the college application process, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“This new rule definitely would have helped with financial stress I experienced during the college application process,” psychology freshman Chris Truong said. “I wish I had this information available to me when I applied, but hopefully the earlier information will help families make better financial decisions in the coming years.”

Amy Nguyen, freshman international relations and global studies major, said that for her, money played the biggest role in deciding where to apply.

“Even if a college may have had good academics or have been in a city I loved, money was a much larger factor in choosing where to go to school,” Nguyen said. “Receiving information earlier would have made it much easier not only to confirm myself at a specific university, but also to complete housing and tuition requirements much sooner.”