Chelsea Weeks, Assistant News Editor
Many people associate October with flannel shirts, pumpkin spiced lattes and Halloween. However, added to the list can be the new FAFSA filing date.
The Department of Education made the decision last year to change the FAFSA filing date from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1.
“The government changed the date from Jan. 1 to allow schools to give students their financial aid package much sooner,” Director of Student Financial Services Jonna Raney said.
According to the FAQ document on FAFSA.org, the change means that students don’t have to use estimates anymore or update their information after filing their taxes. The FAFSA can now be completed with older income and tax information.
“Well under the old year, when you filed in January you were trying to use a tax year that you had not even filed taxes on yet,” Senior Student Financial Services Counselor Lisa Cook said. “The way they changed it is using two-year-old information so you’ll have it, it’s stuff you’ve already got filed and by filling it out in October then you can get your information quicker, what aid you’re eligible to receive.”
Many OBU students will be impacted by the new change.
“It’s just been beneficial to help them plan earlier and give them more time to look at their options of what they need to do and more time to complete anything they need to complete,” Cook said.
The Department of Education also explained some of the benefits to having an earlier filing date on FAFSA.org.
“Having the FAFSA available three months earlier will give you more time to meet most deadlines (although some will be early, so fill out the FAFSA right away just in case) and to explore and understand your financial aid options,” it stated.
Although there are many benefits, with the changes comes an added challenge for the financial aid department by adding another aid year for them to work on.
“The workload for our department has definitely shifted,” Raney said. “We are now processing aid for the next year at the same time we are still getting aid disbursed for the current year. We have a great team in the Student Financial Services office so we adapted well.”
With the change in filing date, it can get confusing when discussing which FAFSA application goes with which academic year, but the best way to remember is to realize that there is a one-year lag.
“Oct. 1st, 2016 was when you started filling out FAFSA for 17-18, so October 1st, 2017, you’re filling it out for 18-19,” Cook said.
Make sure the calendar is marked on Oct. 1 as a reminder for the new FAFSA filing date.
“I would just make sure you fill it out as soon as you can. Some state and federal things are limited or first come, first serve. If you have any questions go see your financial aids counselor for assistance.” Cook said.