State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

New FAFSA Form Set to Debut on Saturday

by and on September 30, 2016 5:00 AM

The cost of college today can be daunting to many families, but it’s important to remember that financial aid is often available. Regardless of family income, I recommend that all parents and prospective college freshmen apply for financial aid.

Financial aid is often separate from the college admissions process, and each college or university has different resources and different allocation methods for their financial aid. If your child is applying to colleges this fall, you should begin applying for financial aid now.

The first step toward securing financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA tells applicants what their Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, which is the amount that a student’s family is expected to contribute toward the cost of his or her college education.

The new FAFSA will be online Saturday, Oct. 1, and will be based on the previous year’s income, which is being called “prior prior year” income. There are some advantages to having the opportunity to submit the FAFSA earlier than January, as was done in the past:

■ Your taxes are already done, and you don’t need to estimate income.
■ The Department of Education has teamed up with the IRS to provide a Data Retrieval Tool, which will automatically populate some of the information from your tax return. 
■ For those students applying to colleges early action or early decision, they may be able to receive their official financial aid packages when they receive their acceptances, since colleges and university will now have this financial information earlier.

This new process should lead to students being able to make more informed decisions about the colleges they attend as they evaluate and compare financial aid offers. Michael Konopski, vice president for enrollment management at Lycoming College, said there will be more time for “bargaining” and for families to question awards.

To complete the FAFSA, you will need to create two separate FAFSA ID numbers, one for the parents and one for the student. Begin this process by visiting, and be sure to use the suffix “gov” to get the free application. If you find yourself at a site asking for payment to submit the FAFSA, you may have inadvertently navigated to a for-profit financial aid assistance site.

Along with the FAFSA, some private colleges require completion of the CSS Profile, which does require payment. There is a list online of all colleges requiring this form. Take note of the submission deadlines.  

It is important that you become familiar with the financial aid forms and application deadlines at each college to which your child is applying because these will vary from school to school. Missing these deadlines can result in a substantial reduction of your financial aid eligibility.

For more information, visit  or [email protected].


This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

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