One of the biggest nightmares dreaded by parents and students is the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. As many as 55% of households do not fill out the elaborate form, some because of family wealth, but many because it is, well, really, really hard to round up all the pieces.
The new submission date, Oct. 1, replaces the old Jan. 1 date, which in the past forced, and frustrated, parents to collect financial information before their entire situation was readily available. Thus, the 2017-18 FAFSA requires households' 2015 tax reports. How cool is that? We all have that material from our 2016 tax filing.
But wait, this gets even better for all you harried parents. There is now something called the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to import automatically your tax information into your FAFSA.
Never lose sight of the fact that FAFSA is a powerful predictor of school financial offers, as well as a factor in Pell Grants and federally supported loans.
So here's the bottom line: With all the information at hand three months earlier, you, the parents and child, get more time to meet most deadlines and crucially now have a way to explore and understand your financial aid options like never before.
It is the dawn of a new day in paying for a college education. And an even better time to contact your college consultant for help navigating the thousands of other issues between you and your child's best college choice.