FAFSA Simplification: What`s Here and What`s on the Horizon


FAFSA Simplification: What`s Here and What`s on the Horizon
Earlier & Simpler
MorraLee Keller
Director of Technical Assistance
National College Access Network
2017‐18 FAFSA Changes
• Submit a FAFSA® Earlier: Students will be able to file a 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. • Use Earlier Income Information: Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students will report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) will report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information.
What Does This Mean?
• Early FAFSA • Prior Prior Year ‐ Use federal tax info from TWO YEARS ago (as opposed to the previous year’s tax info)
• Students entering college in fall 2017 will use tax year 2015 info to complete the FAFSA
• Returning students will use 2015 income on two separate FAFSA’s
• How early? Starting October 1, 2016
Why the Change?
• Increase use of the IRS DRT (Data Retrieval Tool)
– Pre‐filled FAFSA = simplified/shortened form • Reduces likelihood of being selected for verification
• Longer time frame to file the FAFSA
• More time to make college‐related decisions
• Perhaps more likely to attend college
• NASFAA data confirms that PPY yields same eligibility as PY 98% of the time
Is This a Good Thing? Students will:
• Know initial federal estimated awards earlier
• Be able to use the IRS data retrieval tool
• Less students in verification
• Enjoy a longer timeline for special
circumstances and appeals
• Certainty of data due to less usage of estimates
• Have the ability to make a more informed decision about where to attend college
New Timeline/Calendar
There will be two FAFSA cycles open in 2016, both based on 2015 income data:
• Students filing Now enter college this fall (2016‐2017 year)
• Students filing October 1st enter college fall of next year (2017‐
2018 year)
What might/will change for high school counselors and college advisors?
1. Improved discussions with students about financing college
2. Financial Aid/FAFSA information nights and completion workshops will likely be held earlier
3. College and University reps might make requests for earlier visits
4. Fall workload will increase
5. Admissions & Financial Aid processes become simultaneous not sequential
6. More college planning advising during junior year
The FSA ID is a username and password used by students, parents, and borrowers to:
• login to U.S. Department of Education websites
• electronically sign documents
Issues‐Email Address, Passwords, Locked Out, Call Center
Increased FAFSA Processing Time‐Signature Pages •
They will use it:
• Every year they apply for federal student aid at fafsa.gov
• To receive a federal student loan • To perform important activities as a federal student loan borrower, such as choosing a repayment plan or applying for a deferment
Seven Things We Wish Colleges Would Do
1. Do make sure the admissions and financial aid staff are speaking the same language and are better trained about changes
2. Do NOT change FAFSA priority or admissions deadline dates to an earlier timeframe
3. Do make sure your website is updated and differentiates info for different academic years
Seven Things We Wish Colleges Would Do
4. Do urge your fellow institutions NOT to move up their existing application deadlines.
5. Do plan now for an increased number of financial aid appeals for special circumstances and make the process transparent on your website
6. Do plan to send financial aid awards earlier than in previous years
7. Do send clear FAFSA reminder messages to current college students clarifying the new FAFSA timeframe and PPY
Ten Things Counselors & Advisors Will Do
1. Tell juniors each spring that the FAFSA will be available starting October 1st
2. Have juniors get their FSA ID 3. Place the FSA publication order before heading out for summer 4. Move financial aid information nights to August and September and begin FAFSA completion assistance in October, rather than January.
Ten Things Counselors & Advisors Will Do
4. Help students file the FAFSA earlier and review their Student Aid Reports (SAR) with them to understand federal aid eligibility. 5. Spend time tracking down updated deadline information for admissions and financial aid
6. Help students interpret what are very likely to be “estimated” award letters
7. Use the Early FAFSA to help some students understand they CAN afford to attend college
Ten Things Counselors & Advisors Will Do
7. Make sure that early FAFSA filers have updated their FAFSAs for all institutions to which they have applied 8. Help students understand that this transition year may mean the financial aid process will vary greatly by colleges and by college sectors
9. Assist students with specials circumstances in completing any required documentation so that their EFC reflects the most accurate information
10. Spend more time at local happy hours with our admissions and financial aid colleagues
Resources: FSA
Resources: FSA
FSA will provide counselors and mentors with: 1. Language on the 2017‐18 FAFSA that they can share with students and parents via emails, newsletters, etc. The language will focus on the availability of the 2017‐18 FAFSA on October 1 and the use of 2015 tax information for the FAFSA. In addition, the language will contain information on securing an FSA ID over the summer. 2. A suggested calendar/timeline for outreach efforts.
3. A calendar of when FSA resources re: the 2017‐18 FAFSA will be available on www.FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov
Timing: August 2016
1. FSA will host several webinars for counselors and mentors to discuss the changes to the 2017‐18 FAFSA and share the tools/resources we have/will have available to assist them in their outreach efforts.
Timing: late‐April 2016 – Summer 2016
Resources: NCAN
Resources: NACAC
Resources: NASFAA
Some Unknowns at this Time
Will there be more admissions applications filed earlier? •
Will colleges that move deadlines dates be able to process in a timely fashion?
Will financial aid software be ready?
Will colleges package aid earlier?
When will financial aid nights be held?
Will more students complete the FAFSA?
Will their be academic year melt?
Will summer melt increase?
What will happen to the fall school visits and college fair timings?
Will there be a shift in the ACT/SAT testing schedule?
FAFSA Simplification
• Several groups working on simplificationNASFAA, Gates Foundation and NCAN
• Bi-Partisan interest in DC for simplification
- the devil is in the details
• Common Theme – Different Pathways for
Different Applicants
• Likely to occur during Higher Ed
FAFSA Simplifiction Goals
• Stop asking real poor students to prove
they are poor over and over again
• Improve the user experience when filing
• Remove questions not needed for the
federal formula and those answered by the
fewest number of people
NCAN Approach to Simplification
• Three pathways: Means Tested Benefits
Applicant/Simple Tax Filers/Families with
Tax Schedules
• Optional State Question Page
• Used Brain Trust of Experts
• Surveying Non-Filers both In and Not In
NCAN Simplification
Take new user experience to actual students
Developing a prototype for user testing this fall
Control Group-FAFSA Demo Tool
Will monitor completion time, error rate and student
• Estimating costs(Pell) of revised questions
• Share findings will colleagues and Congress
• Prepare Final Simplification Proposal to submit during
Reauthorization Process
National FAFSA Campaign
• Rebranding of College Goal Sunday to be
announced in September
• Promote sharing of unit record data by
state agencies
• Provide tools for local, regional and/or
state FAFSA Completion campaigns or
assistance workshops
MorraLee Keller
NCAN, Director of Technical Assistance
[email protected]