The session entitled New Fundamentals of Financial Aid was the most helpful for me during the 2016 IACAC Conference. During this session, the most important information was regarding the changes happening with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. I learned that saying “early FAFSA” rather than “prior-prior” is most beneficial for the students and parents to understand what the new process is. When I speak to rising seniors about the FAFSA process, I will tell them that they will be able to file their FAFSA beginning on October 1, and they will use tax information from 2015, which is the most current tax information submitted.
The phrase early FAFSA is clear where prior-prior is murkier and could be confusing for students and families. This will be especially helpful during college fairs and high school visits when time is at a premium. I have already let other admission counselors at NIU know to use the phrase early FAFSA rather than prior-prior.
I also learned that early FAFSA does not necessarily mean an early financial aid package. That really depends on each individual school. This is something all admission counselors should keep an eye on and stay in contact with their financial aid departments in order to get an estimate of when aid packages are distributed.