Fall Signing Week '16: What the FAFSA Changes Mean for Recruiting
by Marcia Frost, 7 November 2016
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In a rare move, deadlines changes been made to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA. These modifications have an impact on money available for financial scholarships, which can also change timing in the recruiting process.
The new rules apply to those who plan to start college in 2017 and beyond. The most important one is that students are now able to submit their FAFSA earlier than ever. The opening for filling out an application used to be January 1st. It was changed to October 1st, meaning prospective college students can go on to fafsa.ed.gov
right now and start their forms.
This change has a lot of ramifications. For one thing, 2016 taxes will not be done on October 1st, and they aren't expected to be. The income and assets now provided is for 2015. So, both the 2016 freshman and 2017 FAFSA forms are to be based on 2015 taxes, indicating the income and assets the family had in 2015.
This is the start of the change, so the tax years will begin to even out: students going to college in 2018 will file the FAFSA based on 2016 taxes, students going to college in 2019 will file the FAFSA based on 2017 taxes, and so on. It will remain two years behind.
There are several important factors to remember in this change.
First, the change in the FAFSA deadline may not necessarily change the financial aid deadlines for schools. For example, if you file your 2015 taxes with your FAFSA for the 2017 school year, the school may still require 2016 taxes for their calculations and records. On the other hand, a school may now ask for financial information on your family in October, the year before you start, rather than waiting until after January of the year you are actually going to attend school
Next, the moving up of the FAFSA application does not have anything to do with applying to colleges. You must still check individual schools for their application deadlines, whether or not you are considering early decision. You may now be filling out your FAFSA before instead of after you apply to colleges.
In addition, this could cause information on your FAFSA to be incorrect and outdated. Even if there has been a job loss or change in marital status when you are filling out the form in October, there is no way to include that since you are submitting information based on the previous year. You will need to contact the school directly with the information if you want it considered for financial aid.
Finally, keep in mind that October 1st is not a deadline. You can still wait until January 1st. Just keep in mind however, that schools are under no obligation to wait until after January to make financial aid decisions. If you wait, they may have allotted all their money before they get your information.
The positive note on that is it means that you may have information on available aid and federal loans sooner than ever before. You may be able to make your school decision sooner than ever.
How does this impact the recruiting process? There is a trickle-down effect. The fact that the form will accurately represent taxes rather than be an estimation will give coaches a better picture of whether or not they can get financial aid for a student if a full athletic scholarship isn't available.
In fact, everything will eventually take place a little sooner. If information is filed in October 2016 on a recruit, coaches get a chance to look at it before signing early athletes in November. They will have a better idea on the odds of the student getting financial aid.
While you may not want to rush and get your forms in for the new October FAFSA date, if you want the best chance of being considered for all potential aid - especially at a school which might have limited athletic scholarships - it's going to become more important each year.
Given how new the date changes are, this will probably not have much of an impact on athletes being recruited for 2017, but it will definitely impact future years as colleges are likely to change some of their dates to coincide with the federal government.
For more information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, visit their website.
Fast Start ...
Signing Week is just getting started, and we have our third article coming up later this evening. Come by at 6pm Eastern / 3pm Pacific for a look at Five-star senior and Dartmouth commit Casey Ross of Littleton, Colorado.
Check that one out later on this evening - and look over all the great content we have coming up - as Tennis Recruiting and GAMMA continue with exclusive coverage of Fall Signing Week 2016.
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