15 Changes to the FAFSA and What it Means to You

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, has undergone a number of changes in 2010 which could effect you. Before filling out the application, make sure to look at these key points compiled by the Scholarship Street Blog:

1. New url for the site:  www.fafsa.gov.  The old url still works but this is a shorter address in hopes of preventing students from going to “un”official sites that charge a fee to complete the FAFSA for you.  NEVER pay a fee to complete the FAFSA.  It’s free.

2. Color coded tabs for student and parent sections so it is clear who fills in the required information.  Parents = purple.  Students = Blue.

3. More detailed information such as graduation and retention rates of the colleges you select.  Hey, you should know what you are paying for, right?

4. Fewer questions, based on the profile you enter.  For example, if you are not married, you will not see the questions about married students.  That makes sense and saves you time.

5. More help functions that are tailored to you and how you answer the questions.

6. Removal of Veteran’s benefits questions because they no longer affect eligibility for other federal aid (could change in the future – don’t know)

7. Quick, live estimate of Pell Grant eligibility, based on the information your provide.  No matter waiting and wondering.

8. Virtual keyboard and scrambled SS# to better protect your identity.

9.  Status bars/indicators so you know where you are in the process.

10. Fewer questions about assets for low-income students…again, that makes sense.

11. Transfer (pre-population) of parent information to a sibling’s application.

12. Skip or re-direct on questions about homeless students or dependent students whose parents refuse to provide financial information.

13.  Revised definitions of homeless, degree of homelessness, independent status, dislocated workers (including dislocated homemaker, which is an extremely important job!) to identify and expand financial aid opportunities for more people.

14. Matching process through Department of Defense for additional aid for students (dependents) who had a parent killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 9/11/01.

15.  Coming in Summer 2010….drumroll please….IRS data retrieval tool to lift information from your parents’ tax forms and SAVE YOU TIME!!!

Sources:  Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp Training and ed.gov blog http://www.edgovblogs.org/duncan/2010/01/a-simpler-application-for-student-aid/

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