Financial Aid is a necessity for many students, but getting it can be a tricky process for some.
This year, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid comes with some changes, as students can now apply for it earlier.
The new day students can start to apply has switched from its original Jan. 1 date to Oct. 1 this year.
The current final deadline to file a FAFSA application is Jun. 30, 2017, but Mandi Starwalt, the interim director of the Office of Financial Aid, said students should not wait that long, since most funds are given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
She said it should be easier this year, and not many students will have to wait on their parents’ tax returns anymore.
The FAFSA helps students and their families pay for college and covers educational expenses including tuition and fees. Starwalt said the switch is mainly geared toward incoming students still in high school.
Starwalt said the new FAFSA date gives students more time to know what their financial aid options are, so they can potentially get more money.
Starwalt said they can also avoid the waiting and uncertainty of previous years.
She said most current tax documents would be ready to use when students file for the FAFSA on Oct. 1.
The Office of Financial Aid is working on trying to get the word out about the date change and will team up with the Student Government 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday by Coleman Hall to inform students on the new date.
Starwalt said students have been receiving emails from the Office of Financial Aid, and new students would have been contacted through their MyEIU account. Bookmarks were put at Textbook Rental Service with FAFSA deadlines on them, and postcards have also been sent out to prospective students.
Starwalt also recommends students follow FAFSA on other social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, which share information and links from federal student aid along with tips and tricks for getting aid.
The only tax information needed to file the FAFSA will be from 2015. Students will be using information that is two years old, and this is the only time they will be using the same tax information twice.
Chelsea Gourley, a senior communication disorders and sciences major, said she was not aware of the date change.
“I feel like Oct. 1 is really early, considering the end of the year is in December, and no one has his or her tax forms out yet to put down (their) income on FAFSA,” she said.
She added that universities should advertise the date change on campus, especially as they can miss emails.
However, Stephanie Koska, a sophomore education major, said she did receive an email about the date change and thinks having an earlier date would help students get their FAFSA done.
Koska said filling it out earlier will allow students to see what amount that FAFSA will give them to figure out how much more time and money they actually need.
Adrian Bolaji can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]