A change in the federal timetable for gathering financial information has enabled West Virginia University to extend aid to 6,099 admitted students more than three months ahead of previous years.
“We are one of the first, if not the first, schools in West Virginia to move this quickly with the new deadline for sending in the federal financial aid form,” said Sandra Oerly-Bennett, assistant vice president for student financial support and services. “We believe this will serve our students and their parents very well, and help alleviate some of the concerns about paying for higher education.”
The U.S. Department of Education changed the rules surrounding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, allowing the use of tax information from a year earlier. This in turn opened the door for completing a FAFSA as soon as Oct. 1 rather than the previous availability of Jan. 1 of the following year.
In other words, students seeking aid for the 2017-2018 academic year could begin applying for financial aid on Oct. 1, 2016 instead of waiting until Jan. 1, 2017.
This allowed the earlier awarding of financial aid, Oerly-Bennett said.
Combined with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission making earlier estimates for Higher Education Grants and PROMISE scholarships, families can get a more precise idea of the out-of-pocket expenses they might incur months earlier than ever before, she said.
Oerly-Bennett encouraged prospective students to take advantage of the changes resulting from the earlier window to make their decisions on college attendance sooner. The form is available at http://www.fafsa.gov.
“At WVU, we are again expecting our largest incoming class next fall, so it’s to their advantage to get on board quickly,” she said.