Office of Financial Aid offers assistance navigating new FAFSA

New changes to FAFSA will make the lives of Tech students a little bit simpler. The Prior-Prior Year (PPY) policy, which begins with the 2017-2018 academic year, will make the FAFSA process simpler and more streamlined. In previous years, the FAFSA form was made available on January 1, but used the Prior Year’s tax return. This year, the 2017-2018 FAFSA became available on Oct. 1 and families are asked to input their prior-prior year’s tax return. For example, if applying for the 2017-2018 FAFSA, families will use their 2015 tax returns, instead of their 2016 documents.

These changes were brought about because of public call for simplification.

“For many years, the public has expressed concern about the complexity of the FAFSA and more generally the process of applying for financial aid,” said Paul Kohn, Vice Provost of Enrollment Services. “[I]n order to bolster access to college and aid, the federal government decided to change to prior-prior year.”

The new policy makes it easier for families to utilize the feature within FAFSA that retrieves tax information directly from the IRS. Families can also start filling out FAFSA sooner, since their prior-prior year’s tax returns will already be completed.

“One major advantage will be that the college applicant will not need current tax documents and can instead utilize one year old tax filing information,” Kohn said. “Each year many thousands of FAFSA filers would need to wait until their parents prepared their tax returns, which would often be late in the spring and much later than the eager college student should file.”

The prior-prior year policy may not help everyone.

“A potential disadvantage will become evident for families where income in the prior-prior year is very different than their income for the year leading to college enrollment.” Kohn said. “It is a relatively small step in the name of simplification and much more remains to be done to improve access to higher education — including financial aid.”

To address these changes and other financial aid questions, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will be hosting the first Financial Aid Fair Nov. 3.

“We’ll be bringing awareness to students about the early, easier 2017-2018 FAFSA, as well as helping them understand the annual financial aid application requirements needed for maximum financial aid consideration,” said LeAndra Ross, associate director of outreach and advisement in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.

“Additionally, we’ll have other booths in an effort to bring awareness to the different programs and areas in which we assist students; therefore, the Fair will also focus on various ‘how to’ topics, such as how to pay for Study Abroad, keep HOPE/Zell Scholarship eligibility, apply for additional scholarships and, lastly, manage student loan repayment,” Ross said.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Bill Moore Student Success Center.