FAFSA- Simpler, or More Complicated?
We are back on the blog talkin' FAFSA, because it's officially FAFSA Season! Well, kinda. This year's FAFSA looks a lot different than any year before, and the date for this season's kickoff is actually moved back to December, but we want to help WNY parents to know what to be ready for. We are always here to help you navigate through the FAFSA waters, so rest assured if you have any questions you can always reach out to Jeff or Kayla here at Send Your Kids to College to gain further insights! Let's talk about what to expect with FAFSA moving forward!
First Things First
Typically the FAFSA is available on October 1st, but this year the date is pushed back to December. It's advised that despite the typical advice to rush to get your FAFSA in ASAP, you may want to be patient this year. Why? Well the FAFSA is undergoing major changes and if you are among the first, you'll probably among the first "guinea pigs" to test the new system. Everything will be BRAND NEW, so you may want to give it about 2 weeks or so for the kinks to work themselves out.
It can be assumed that such a drastic change, with 20 different systems attached, with so much change to forms, websites, regulations, formulas, it could get a little confusing in the early stages.
"I Thought You Said "Simplified?"
Despite the name "FAFSA Simplification Act," things aren't exactly becoming more simple. The first change is significant, going from what was known as "Expected Family Contribution," (EFC) to "Student Aid Index." (SAI) This is the federal needs analysis formula used to calculate how much a student needs to borrow. The new SAI will allegedly be based on much of the same information as the former EFC, but we're seeing signs that results could be painful for many middle to upper income parents. Why?
Changes for Separated and Divorced Parents
The old FAFSA said that the parent the student lived with more than 50% of the time completed the FAFSA, even if that parent made less. If one parent made significantly less, FAFSA would favor that parent, resulting in higher financial aid eligibility.
Now the rules require that the parent who provides the majority of what they call "material support" is the one to complete the FAFSA. This doesn't necessarily mean the parent who makes the most money is automatically the one to file, but it definitely will cause some questions to arise.
Discounts No More, for Multiple Students Enrolled
We've talked a lot about FAFSA, but the CSS Profile comes into factor when talkinga bout multiple kids from your family in school. Previously, if a family had more than one kid going to college, there would be a discount applied by 50% or more, depending on the number of students in college. This was the case for almost 3 decades.
The removal of this discount will be drastic for some families.
It could be assumed that colleges won't take the hit on pulling aid from students from families with multiple kids in college, that rule could be grandfathered, but there's no guarantees.
CSS Could Be Even More Important.
The CSS Profile is a form used by over 200 of the more selective colleges to award their own money. We expect the CSS profile will continue to consider the number of students a family has in college. This could provide a lot of reasoning behind a student choosing to go to a CSS profile school, based on financial aid.
Choosing to go to a CSS profile school could save you thousands, and be an even better private college than you intended initially.
Small Biz? Sorry...
Families with a business generating income in the fam could be hurt by the new FAFSA. Why? Well, before the net worth of a family small business with fewer than 100 employees was NOT reported. Now, the net worth of EACH will be part of the calculation. If a family had a business or farm for example, without being included as before, a family earning $100,000 would expect an EFC of $20,000. Not anymore. The contribution could be 3x that now. This means that students of parents who run a successful business could see significantly LESS needs-based financial aid.
It could significantly impact their ability to pay for college.
There is hope...
The goal of this blog wasn't to scare anyone off from considering college in their future. It's still going to be possible, but it could look a lot different based on your family situation. Luckily for you, if you're here in WNY, you have resources here to help. We provide assistance along every step of the college planning process, and we will be well equipped to provide support on the new FAFSA. There are workarounds and measures that can be taken that could impact your financial aid significantly, so don't go in alone. We are here to help! Remember to follow us on Facebook and Linkedin to stay up to date with all our tips and notes! Thanks! We hope to see you soon!