FAFSA: What you need to know

Staff Writer

Money for classes. Money for books. Money for food. Money plays a big role in a college student’s life. Students are constantly reminded about how much money is needed for college. Luckily, there is one money reminder that all students should be aware of that could help them relax about money for college.

This helpful reminder is that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) deadlines have changed. Starting with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students are now able to submit the application earlier. This new modification to the application can change the way students budget for college. By having this change, students can relax a little more and not stress over money.

To clarify what has changed, the FAFSA committee stated the following: “Students are

A friendly reminder at the Financial Aid office in Old Main. Photo credit: Lauren Reeves

able to file on Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date is a permanent change, enabling students to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as Oct. 1 every year.”

For McKendree students and other college students across the country, you can now get a head start on budgeting for your school year. In other words, beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) must report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information.

However, if this confuses you, or if you feel like you need extra help understanding this change, McKendree’s Financial Aid office is here to help. Financial Aid is located on the first floor of Old Main and open to students weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. All Financial Aid members are eager to help students understand their financial path at McKendree. They welcome walk-ins, and each Financial Aid counselor takes appointments if you feel like you need more insight or guidance concerning your finances related to McKendree.

To better assist you with your FAFSA, you are recommended to stop by Financial Aid to see Edward Howell, the McKendree FAFSA “guru.” “We are expecting some issues with [the FAFSA] because of the new change,” stated Howell. An issue that Howell sees that the new FAFSA change will remedy is the “Will File” claim that most students and their parents once chose to do. Since the government changed the day the FAFSA can be submitted and which tax information to use, the Will File option, or problem as some see it, goes away, making everything more accurate and less stressful.

Although there is not an exact date to file your FAFSA, Howell and the office of Financial Aid here at McKendree suggest doing it as soon as possible. For students who are from Illinois and live in Illinois, they recommend you file sooner rather than later for possible Pell or MAP grant funding through the state.

To help your FAFSA process go smoothly, Howell has set up workshops to better aid students and their parents. These workshops are instructed by Howell to help you walk through the FAFSA process. These workshops have been held since Oct. 1. The next chance to attend a FAFSA workshop is Oct. 15 in the Piper Academic Center (PAC), room 120, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. This workshop is completely free and open to all those who need assistance.

For more information on the FAFSA, the workshops or your financial future at McKendree, stop by the Financial Aid office in Old Main or visit Financial Aid online.

Cover photo credit: Anna Belmonte

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