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Serious Change Headed for FAFSA

By Ashlee Scott

Effective October 2016 students will be given the opportunity to file for their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) three months prior to the traditional month of January.

Over the years, college tuition has been drastically increasing. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that student loans currently total to $1.2 trillion. This staggering statistic has left many people rethinking whether or not they should continue their education after high school. Most higher education students are now pinching pennies in an effort to afford the cost of attending the colleges and universities of their choice. As a result, the number of college applicants has plummeted.

In an effort to increase college enrollment, the Obama Administration has been devising a plan to make it easier for students to receive financial aid to help pay for ever-increasing college tuition. President Barack Obama intends to change the start date for filing for the 2017-18 FAFSA to October 1, 2016, instead of January 1, 2017. In addition to the FAFSA filing date change, students and their families will be able to use tax returns from two years prior. The additional time may help reduce the stresses of last-minute scurrying around, as students try to complete the application forms on time, hence, increasing their chances of success.

This change appears to be good news for students statewide! However, it will not take effect until October 2016 for the Fall semester of 2017.

Meanwhile, RACC students are advised to visit the campus’s Financial Aid Office online page to familiarize themselves with the system. If independent reading is not your style, the RACC campus has a helpful staff in Berks Hall, Room 107, where students may go with questions as simple as “What is FAFSA?” to the more detailed “May you help me with my FAFSA application?” Speaking with the Financial Aid department is an effective way of making sure you are financially on the right path.

Planning ahead of time by organizing all the required documents is the best way to prepare yourself and overcome the monetary challenges of college life. As the saying goes: The early bird (in this case, Raven) gets the worm!

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