Financial Aid Changes. What you need to know.

graduation cap with Financial Aid text on assorted hundred dollar bills

It is that time of year again when the spring’s high school seniors are making the transition to this fall’s incoming college freshmen. Many will leave home for the first time and face many new and wonderful challenges. But before any of this can happen every one of those incoming freshmen’s families should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The FAFSA must be filled out by each family to see if the family qualifies for federal financial aid, and must be filled out each year the child plans to attend college. So if your spring senior is now a fall freshman then you have probably already filled out a FAFSA for the 2016-2017 school year, since open date was January 1, 2016. But a few things have changed this year that will effect next year.


Traditionally, FAFSA became available on January 1 for students attending college the following fall. This led to many challenges for families: (1.) Having to estimate your income taxes or rush to have them completed in order to file your FAFSA to see if you qualified for Financial Aid. (2.) Narrow window of time to consider options of schools and what your financial aid options were before school’s deadline closed. Things have changed this year to help correct these problems. (See Chart)


So what does this mean for parents of those newly minted freshmen? You will need to fill out two FAFSA this year; the one in January 1, for this year and then again on October 1 for next school year. But for those with newly minted seniors in high school, this allows you additional time to get your FAFSA report back along with college acceptance letters to look over what is the best financial options for your family.


Even if you saved for college in a 529 plan or another option, filing the FAFSA is still a good idea. You won’t know what financial aid is available to you without filing. For more information on the FAFSA process, visit If you would like more information on developing a savings strategy to help pay for college, feel free to contact our office.


Disclaimer: Board of Retirement is not a Financial Aid expert nor do we give financial aid advice. This post is intended for informational and educational purposes only. If you have financial aid questions, please seek out professional experts in the field.