The Quest for Financial Aid Funds Has Begun

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I have heard this all my life and recently realized that it holds true far beyond material possessions. For months leading up to the October 1st launch of the new FAFSA reporting date, media of every kind had articles, blogs, audio, video, workshops, conferences and meetings to get the word out. It began to cling to me like cigarette smoke, always there until you wash it out of everything it touched. Imagine my surprise at reading an article by Susan Snyder that reported, “The Royall and Company survey found that less than a quarter of students and about a third of parents were aware of the FAFSA deadline change.” Royall and Company is a higher education research firm based in Richmond. Because it is not a deadline that will have an immediate effect on the family of a college-bound student, it is still seen as a “trash” item cluttering up a busy day. I more families don’t get to work on that application, it will result in a substantial loss of the “treasure” they have struggled to save. That is why I have visited the topic one more time.

I sincerely hope that it is not news to you that the FAFSA forms for students attending college in the fall of 2017 should be completed by the middle of this month (October). The deadline is not October 15th, but because financial aid is a first come, first serve commodity, it is a good idea to get it submitted by this date. This is a first for families and for the colleges. No one is quite sure how this new wrinkle in the college funding process will play out and that should be added incentive to have all your ducks in a row (paperwork completed on time).

There is really no reason why having the FAFSA application due in October should cause any additional stress or hardship on families with students who are already in, or applying to college. Actually, I think that it might reduce stress in households where the student believes their parents are managing the application process a little too closely. Now these students can tell hovering parents that they have their own homework to complete.

I believe that completing the FAFSA in October will be a good thing for seniors graduating in 2018 or 2019. By then all the bugs will have been worked out and colleges will have policies in place for making firm financial aid offers to seniors in the fall or early spring instead of finalizing their offers in the summer before classes begin. To all of you 2017 grads, I wish you the best of luck with the modified system.

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