Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is reminding students and their families that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available. That’s three months earlier than in previous years. The change impacts high school seniors, continuing college students, and others who plan to attend college during the 2017-2018 school year, as they apply for grants, loans, or scholarships.
“Figuring out how to pay for college is a significant undertaking, and completing the FAFSA is usually part of that process,” DeWine said. “Because the FAFSA will be available earlier this year, we want Ohio students and families to be prepared. Generally the earlier a student applies, the better.”
Rick Kurtz, President of Shawnee State University, is also urging students to apply early.
“We are encouraging students to take advantage of the early filing date,” Kurtz said. “Filing early means that a student’s financial aid can be in place early, helping students and families budget for education expenses and ensuring a smooth transition into college.”
To better align with the new FAFSA submission date, Shawnee State University changed its application deadline for merit scholarships to Dec. 1, 2016 for students applying for fall 2017.
The FAFSA is used to calculate a student’s financial aid eligibility. In previous years, the FAFSA wasn’t available until Jan. 1 of the year the student planned to start college. Now, however, students who plan to attend college next fall (during the 2017-2018 academic year) can complete the FAFSA beginning Oct. 1. In addition to being available earlier, the FAFSA also now will collect income information from an earlier tax year – the “prior prior” year instead of the “prior” year before the student will start college. For example, high school seniors who plan to start college in the fall of 2017 can complete the FAFSA using their parents’ 2015 tax return information (rather than waiting for 2016 information). Changes to the FAFSA could affect college application and priority financial aid deadlines, which are unique to each school.
Students should check with their preferred institution of higher education to learn about the school’s deadlines. To help Ohioans navigate student loans and plan for college. DeWine’s office provides an online Student Loan Center for prospective, current, and former college students. It outlines different types of financial aid, lists resources for exploring careers, schools, and financial aid options, and offers calculators to help students budget their expenses and plan loan repayments.
“The December 1 application deadline allows us award scholarships early, too,” Kurtz said. “Our goal is to help students and families make decisions about college early in the process. Knowing how much scholarship and financial aid money they can count on is a critical component.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s Student Loan Center is available at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/StudentLoans
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.