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Changes to student financial aid could make enrollment easier

Early submission to begin Oct. 1st

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Starting in October, students can file their 2017-2018 Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as opposed to waiting under after the New Year. The early submission change, allowing students to submit the form as early as October 1st, will be be a permanent change.

“Planning for college is a step-by-step process and it can be pressure filed. The early you can start the easier it is,” said Wendy Dunlap, M.Ed. Director of Duval County Public Schools Counseling Services. “Now that you can start earlier, you’ll feel less pressure because you have more time to explore and understand your financial aid options and apply for aid before the deadlines.”

In addition to the earlier submission, students will also be required to report income and tax information from an earlier tax year. As an example, on the 2017-18 FAFSA, parents will report 2016 income and tax information, rather than 2016 information.

Parents will also have the option of using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to automatically import the tax information onto the FAFSA.

Dunlap, who has been helping students plan college for the past 17 years, says all seniors should apply. “Parents and students grumble about applying for financial aid, but there are excellent reasons why ALL families should apply. It is so much easier than it was when we were high school students. If you don’t apply, you are shortchanging yourself tens of thousands of dollars.”