I recently attended a financial aid conference that focused on a lot of financial issues that our federal and state governments are dealing with in regards to higher education. As many can probably assume, budget deficits have many elected officials trying to figure out where money is going to come from.
One highlight of the conference though, was regarding the changes that the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) have made to the 2011-2012 FAFSA. This past summer, the FAFSA began giving student applicants the option to retrieve their and their parents financial information straight from the IRS . While many Jewell students filed the FAFSA before this was available to them, most will be able to take advantage of this tool for 2011.
So, how does it work and why? We all know that the FAFSA looks at prior year income, so in order to accurately complete the application you would need to file your taxes first and have the tax form sitting in front of you at the computer. The IRS data retrieval system simply makes it easier and more accurate. Rather than you manually key entering your adjusted gross income, taxes paid and other tax calculations, the FAFSA will access the IRS database with your permission, and automatically transfer that data straight to your FAFSA. Therefore, your FAFSA will be as accurate as the information you provided to the IRS.
All you and your parents need to do is file your taxes electronically and wait approximately one week before you file the FAFSA. If you file taxes by mailing them to the IRS you would need to wait longer than a week due to processing. Obviously we are going to continue to encourage students to file their FAFSA prior to March 1 and the state of Missouri will continue to have an April 1 deadline for all state aid programs, therefore if you or your parents intend to wait as long as possible, this may not be a route you should take. But, for a majority of students this will apply and make it more reassuring that you filed the FAFSA correctly.
Now, the downside is that this process does not eliminate our need to verify the accuracy of the FAFSA for those students selected for verification. Although, it will make it easier for us to do so.
The Jewell financial aid office will continue to provide valuable information to students regarding financial aid in 2011 and have already begun gearing up on how to best serve Jewell students for the upcoming year.