By Camille Nicolai, MATC director, admissions and financial aid
Two changes in financial aid procedures are expected to streamline and expedite the process used to apply for and use financial aid.
Estimated Financial Aid Awards Ease Book Store Backups
The first is a change in Milwaukee Area Technical College’s financial aid procedures. As the result of a study to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of MATC Student Services operations, the Office of Financial Aid is now providing estimated financial aid awards, which allow students to purchase text books using a financial aid book deferment.
In the past, students randomly selected by the federal government for financial aid verification did not receive financial aid award notices until verification was complete. This caused delays in the college Book Stores because employees needed to contact the financial aid staff and enter textbook fund information manually. With the estimated award process, once a student submits all required verification documents and meets all financial aid application requirements, the student will receive an estimated award based on information listed on his/her Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
The Financial Aid Office also is now expediting the notification process by emailing financial aid verification requests instead of notifying students via U.S. mail.
Federal Changes to FAFSA Allow Students to Apply for Aid Earlier and Expedite Awards
FAFSA is the application students must complete to apply for federal student aid, which can be used to attend an eligible college, trade school or university. Federal student aid includes federal Pell Grants, federal student loans and work-study opportunities. In addition to determining eligibility for federal student aid, many states, private organizations, colleges and trade schools rely on information from the FAFSA to determine a student’s eligibility for other sources of aid.
Last fall, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that two major changes to the FAFSA would take effect for the 2017–18 school year (July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018).
- The FAFSA will be available earlier. (Students can apply as soon as October 1, 2016, for aid to be used during the 2017-2018 academic year. Previously, students would have to wait until January 1 of the upcoming academic year.)\
- The FAFSA will collect income information from the tax year two years prior to the application instead of requiring students to wait for tax forms for the prior year. (Referred to as “prior prior year,” this means that students can use 2015 tax information for 2017-18 financial aid.) In the past, applicants often had to wait till April to gather tax information to apply for financial aid. Now they can file as early as Oct. 1 for the next academic year, using information from the tax year two years earlier.
Note: Applicants for 2016-17 financial aid still need to use the prior year tax information until the policy officially changes on October 1, 2016.
What Does Prior-Prior Year (PPY) Mean?
The change allows students to report tax information from a prior-prior tax year (PPY) using tax information from two years ago.
These changes are designed to allow students and their families to fill out the FAFSA form earlier so they can received financial aid packages before making decisions about attending college.
The following chart compares the current FAFSA, which operates with prior year (PY) data compared to changes beginning October 1, 2016 to prior prior year (PPY):
|Prior Year (PY) (Current Policy till October 1, 2016)||Prior-Prior Year (PPY)|
|• Only allows taxes from previous year||• Allows taxes from two years ago|
|• File FAFSA, must make corrections to data once taxes are filed||• Taxes already filed, data is correct from previous year|
|• Poorly aligned with college application calendar||• Better aligned with college application calendar|
|• Difficult to meet priority filing deadlines, which must be met to qualify for some forms of financial aid||• Removes conflicts with priority filing deadlines, which must be met to qualify for some forms of financial aid|
|• Financial aid information available nearing college decision deadline dates||• Financial aid information available further in advance of college decision deadlines|
|• Close timing causes stressful and less-informed college and financial aid decisions||• Allows for more at-ease, informed college and financial aid decisions|
Have questions? For more information, visit MATC’s Office of Financial Aid at http://tinyurl.com/j4yf2wa or call (414) 297-8875.