By Josh Smith, Contributing Writer
On Oct. 1, an enormous change happened for the students who receive federal financial aid; the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was made available for all students. However, this great news has seemed to be overshadowed by other things on campus. This is a big change that deserves more attention.
Before, students had to wait until Jan. 1 of each year to file a new FAFSA. This year, the U.S. Department of Education permanently changed the date to begin on October 1. This change may seem very miniscule, but it benefits students and parents greatly. This change allows you to use your tax information that has already been filed the previous year, so now you do not have to wait for your taxes to be completed for the upcoming deadline.
While also changing the start date, the federal government implemented a new tool to aid in completing your FAFSA. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is a new program in which you have the option to connect to the IRS to import your tax information. You must verify your name, social security number, birthday, and address, but doing this will automatically pull in your tax information. You will no longer have to search through lines and lines of your tax forms.
Katie Cooper, West Liberty University’s Director of Financial Aid, explained the importance of filing your FAFSA early.
“Filing your FAFSA early will allow our office to start processing your information sooner,” Cooper said. “We will be able to help you complete any forms, documents or other requirements for the 2017-2018 academic year before even completing your spring semester exams. This will help us to be able to process your aid as soon as your grades are final, allowing your fall billing process to go smoothly.”
As the end of the fall semester is vastly approaching, take into consideration that you can now file your FAFSA early. If you have any questions on filing your FAFSA, be sure to contact Cooper at [email protected].