The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), a requirement for all students receiving or wishing to receive financial aid, has undergone significant changes effective this year.
The FAFSA, which was available for Fall aid consideration beginning on Jan. 1, with a priority deadline of March 1, has now been pushed forward with FAFSA availability beginning Oct. 1, and a priority deadline of Dec. 1. MSU Financial Aid Office Manager, Christina Williams explained, “over 70 percent of the student population uses funds awarded to them through the FAFSA process … If students don’t meet this priority date, they may not receive the aid that they may have qualified for had they met this deadline.”
The financial aid that students may miss out on includes Federal Supplementary Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), work study, Perkins Loans and Nursing Loans. “MSU has limited funds to award in those areas. Students that don’t meet the priority filing date will not be awarded this aid,” Williams said, “Missing out on financial aid could result in a loss of over $5,500 for the academic year.”
In addition to the earlier application date, the FAFSA is now based on the prior year’s tax information. In previous years, the applicant, and guardians where applicable, were asked to estimate their taxes for the current year. Now it is required that the applicant provide the previous year’s income. For example, for the 2017/18 FAFSA, an applicant would report their 2015 calendar year income. All applicants must submit their personal or family income from 2015 even if their income has changed drastically since they filed their 2015 taxes. For any students in this situation, according to the Federal Student Aid website, “you should complete the FAFSA questions as required, submit the FAFSA, then contact the school you plan to attend and discuss your situation with the financial aid office.”
In order to apply for FAFSA, students must create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID on the Federal Student Aid website. The applicant uses this ID to electronically sign their FAFSA which they submit on fafsa.ed.gov. Located in room 183 of the Strand Union Building, the MSU Office of Financial Aid offers free help to anyone completing their FAFSA.