Applying for federal financial aid for college will be a little easier for millions of students and families next year, under a proposal announced by President Barack Obama on Monday.
The federal government will allow students to apply for college aid based on their family's income from two years earlier instead of the past year. Starting in October 2016, students will be able to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, using data from 2015 tax returns. Previously, students had to wait until at least January to fill out the student aid forms as their parents finalized their 2016 tax returns.
"This puts things in a logical timeline," said Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit policy and research organization. "It means students will be able to apply for aid earlier and more easily, and make better informed decisions about where to apply and how to pay for college." The institute had been urging lawmakers and presidential administrations to make this change since 2007.