FAFSA changes could mean more financial aid opportunities for students

As a college sophomore, and like many of her classmates, Shakara Burnham relies on financial aid for her courses.

"That helps me pay the tuition, as well as books," she said. 

To receive aid, she uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.  Starting this year, the enrollment period begins Oct. 1 instead of early next year.  It gives students a leg up on applying for and receiving aid.

"Really, I don’t think there is a reason not to fill it out," Burnham told Local 6. 

Certified Public Accountant Dean Owen said another change helps with filling out the tax portion of the document. You can now use your current tax return, instead of estimating next year’s. "If they know about it, they’ll take advantage of it. Because now you can plan a whole lot better," Owen said. 

Plus, the earlier the application is submitted, the better your chances are of getting more money.  "That’s when the schools have the most amount of aid to give, and at the end is when they have the least amount to give," he said. 

For Burnham, it’s a more streamlined process —making it easier on her and her parents to apply for aid as she pursues a college degree.

"You can go ahead and have peace of mind that all of it’s done around the same time," she said. 

For more information on filling out the FAFSA form and the changes, click here and here.

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