Figuring out how to pay for a college education is a challenge for any prospective college student. But when the financial aid forms that are there to help you are difficult to complete, it adds an unnecessary burden to students.
Fortunately, recent changes to the online version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms have been designed to make life easier for high school students on the road to becoming a college student.
Nearly all students who complete the FAFSA form submit it online. The online form allows students to receive their Student Aid Report more quickly; this form informs students what type of federal aid and other aid they’re eligible for, and lets them know if there are any outstanding questions about their application.
The primary change to the FAFSA form is a reduction in the number of questions students have to answer to complete the form. Progress bars have also been added to the form that allow applicants to see where they are in the process.
More changes are planned to streamline the forms further: Students will soon be able to import information from their federal tax returns into their FAFSA applications, which prevents them from having to manually enter that data and can cut down on errors. This change alone can eliminate up to 18 questions on the FAFSA form, which will greatly reduce the time it takes the average student to finish the form. Also on its way is a feature that will allow students to skip questions that don’t apply to them, also reducing the time it takes for students to complete the forms.
The goal of these changes is to simplify the financial aid process to assist more students in receiving financial aid and pursuing a college education. Studies have shown that efforts to simplify the process of applying for financial aid can increase the number of students who apply to college, so improving financial aid forms can have a significant impact on college enrollment.
With enrollment up at many schools and financial aid growing tighter, the ability to get the required financial aid to pay for college is a growing concern for students. Submitting the FAFSA form as early as possible puts student in a better position to maximize their opportunities for receiving financial aid, since some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The FAFSA form is a student’s key to getting federal aid, which is the largest source of financial aid for students seeking a college education. The FAFSA doubles as your application for a variety of federal grants, including the Federal Pell grant, Academic Competitiveness Grant and National SMART Grant. It also informs you if you are eligible for federal college loans to help supplement the grants and scholarships you’ve been awarded.
What can you do if your financial situation changes after you complete your FAFSA form? If you or a parent lose a job, become seriously ill or experience another kind of financial hardship, it is possible to request that schools reevaluate your financial situation and the amount of financial aid they’re willing to offer you. In many cases, you will be asked to provide evidence of the negative changes in your financial situation. If you find yourself in this situation, contact the financial aid offices of the schools that accept you to find out if they’re willing to give your FAFSA and financial documents a second look.
People Who Read This Article Also Read:
How to Complete Your FAFSA
5 Helpful FAFSA Tips
How to Apply for Financial Aid
Understanding Student Aid: Federal, State and College Aid
Are You Eligible for Federal Financial Aid?
What to Do When You Receive a Student Aid Report (SAR)