Early FAFSA may help families pay for college

Date to file for federal student aid moved to Oct. 1

SAN ANTONIO – A big change is happening for students going to college.

The government is moving up the Free Application for Federal Student Aid application date to Oct. 1, which is three months earlier than before.

Here’s how it works: Submit the FAFSA form. You’ll get a Student Aid Report that tells you what type of federal aid you qualify for, such as Pell Grants or work-study programs. You can enter that information into the net price calculator on any college’s website or on CollegeAbacus.org to get a good idea of what a college will cost you before you apply.

It’s important to apply for FAFSA as soon after the Oct. 1 launch as possible. Many state, college and scholarship programs need your FAFSA information to determine how much aid you’re going to get, and often the aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Be aware that if you’re heading to college in 2017, your aid package will be based on your family’s 2015 taxes. You can use the IRS data retrieval tool on the FAFSA form to directly import your tax information.

Don’t worry if you don’t know all the schools you want to apply to. Consumer Reports recommends that students list all of the colleges they are considering to hold their place in line for financial aid. They can always add more schools later. And remember that students must reapply for FAFSA every year. So the new application date also means you will be receive earlier notice if your aid package changed.

Take care when filling out the forms. Missed signatures or incorrect information can slow down the process and cost you thousands of dollars in aid.

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