Changes made to Federal Student Aid process - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Changes made to Federal Student Aid process

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Students getting ready for college next year can now get a head start on applying for financial aid.
   
President Obama pushed up the date to submit paperwork for college funds in 2015 as part of a policy action.

The changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid involves both two year and four year colleges and universities in the country.

Already in effect, students can complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid three months earlier than usual. This permanent change means students can file a 2017-2018 FAFSA beginning Oct. 1 rather than Jan. 1.

Financial advisors across the country are making an extra effort to help in this process.

"We hope to, before the Christmas break, go into the area high schools and help our families, parents and students submit their FAFSA. We've done this for the past two years in Feburary so we hope to do it earlier this year," said Debbie Henshaw, Associate VP of financial aid services at Columbus Tech.

Completing the process earlier can help students get more money for their education. Nearly $8 million goes unclaimed every year.

"It could because it will give more families and students more choices on where you want to go to school, compare costs," said Henshaw.

Henshaw say more than 50 percent of students at Columbus Technical College receive Federal Pell Grant while 80 percent are awarded the HOPE Scholarship and other grants.

When filling out the Federal Student Aid application, students and parents need to use tax returns from 2015, since the 2016 return would have not been filed by January 1.

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