The College Corner – Important Changes in the College Financial Picture

Is the college financial picture looking better for the Class of 2016?

Momentum is gaining. Colleges and Universities with large endowments are continuing to offer grants rather than loans, particularly for those families making less than 50,000 or 60,000 per year. For example, Brown will now require “zero parental contribution for families making less than $60,000 per year, and will continue to offer aid packages which do not contain student loans for families making less than $100,000 a year.”

What does financial aid look like for the Class of 2017?

As the old saying goes everything changes except death and taxes and . . . everyone thought, until now, that included the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well. But lo and behold the FAFSA is changing - in some good ways.

First, beginning in 2016, students and their families will be able to use “prior-prior year” tax information when completing the FAFSA. That means when applying for the College 2017-18 admission, students and families may use an income tax report filed two years before rather than the one year prior to Fall of Entry.

Also, the FAFSA Form will be available in October of the student’s senior year rather than in January of each year.

Any more changes for the Class of 2017 and beyond?  

Now we are talking change. If a bill currently in Congress is passed, the class of 2017 may have a shorter FAFSA. How short? Lamar Alexander, Senator from Tennessee, has introduced a bill to shorten the FAFSA from 108 questions to a postcard size form? Really?

The FAFSA is not the only financial form used by colleges and universities to determine both family contribution and financial aid. There has always been another financial form, the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile, used by many private colleges or used in conjunction with the FAFSA.

Parents of seniors and juniors, please join us at Rivermont’s November 4th 7:00 PM Financial Aid Evening when a local representative of ICAN (Iowa College Access Network) will explain the FAFSA step by step and answer individual questions. If you wish to read an excellent article on the impact of the changes in the FAFSA, check out Augustana’s Kent Barnds’s article, “A Game Changer for Financial Aid.”

The most important consideration is to look for the school with the best fit and then consider the financial picture, rather than the other way around, keeping in mind that like many things, the sticker price is often not the price you will ultimately pay. is the informational site and application point for the FAFSA


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