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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2017

Window to apply for college financial aid opens Saturday

Sep 26, 2016

The window to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the 2017-18 school year opens Saturday, earlier than in past years.

Iowa College Aid is reminding students and prospective students that the FAFSA is the gateway to financial aid for higher education.

The FAFSA determines a student’s eligibility for federal grants, loans and work-study and is required for most state-administered grants and scholarships. Many schools and organizations also use the FAFSA to determine who receives scholarship money.

“The FAFSA is the crucial first step in applying for financial aid for college,” said Karen Misjak, executive director of Iowa College Aid. “In the 2014-15 school year, only 64 percent of high school seniors in Iowa filed the FAFSA. The rest missed out on potential help to pay for higher education.”

Iowa College Aid urges high school seniors and current college students to file the FAFSA even if they think they won’t qualify for student aid, or if they’re not sure they will attend college next year.

“Students are often surprised how much aid they might receive,” Misjak said. “And sometimes that assistance helps make the decision to start college or return to college.”

Until this year, students and families were required to use prior-year tax information to file the FAFSA. For the 2016-17 academic year, for instance, tax information from 2015 was required. Now FAFSA filers are allowed to use “prior-prior-year” tax information. For the 2017-18 academic year, 2015 tax information will be accepted.

A new FAFSA must be filed for each year a student hopes to qualify for financial aid.

To apply online, go to FAFSA.ed.gov. To request a paper application, call 800-433-3243.

For tips on filing the FAFSA and other information about applying for financial aid, go to IowaCollegeAid.gov.

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