Ring in the New Year with a New FAFSA

Simplified FAFSA Form Finally Available

It’s an annual ritual. College students and their parents fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Traditionally, it opens October 1, but after a significant delay, this year we are ringing in the new year with a new FAFSA form hailed as simpler with fewer questions.

Completing and submitting the FAFSA form is free and gives eligible students access to the largest source of college financial aid, including free grant aid, work study eligibility, and student loans.

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA helps colleges determine a student’s eligibility for federal student aid, which colleges then insert into the student’s overall financial aid package.

What changed on the FAFSA and why?

“Congressional legislation mandated changes to the FAFSA with the goal of simplifying the application,” said Tim Sechrist, McMurry University director of financial aid. Changes include:

How does this affect timing for FAFSA submission and award letters?

With the three-month delay of the new form’s availability, students, especially incoming freshmen, are urged to complete the form quickly to give them the best opportunity for the most eligible financial aid as determined by their eligibility. McMurry’s financial aid office will reach out to students who need additional documentation for information verification.

Patience and grace are virtues and will be needed as institutions are challenged by receiving FAFSA information much later than usual, evaluating and verifying the typical amount of student aid packages in a much shorter time, learning how the changes affect aid, and awaiting development of updated software used to process applications.

“We anticipate sending award letters in mid-to-late February, as colleges will receive information from FAFSA in late January. We will send student aid packages as soon as FAFSA information is received and we can verify eligibility for aid,” commented Sechrist. “However, Admissions is already sending merit scholarships to incoming students.”

Do returning students need to complete the new form?

All students should complete the new form. Returning student forms have prefilled information to review and update.

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