Changes to FAFSA Aim to Simplify

As students begin to prepare for the 2017-2018 school year, it is important to be informed on the new FAFSA guidelines and scholarship opportunities.

There have been a few changes to the FAFSA application. “FAFSA, applicants will be required to report income and tax information from an earlier tax year,” said Scott Young, who serves as director of the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office. “That means students will use their 2015 income and tax information, rather than their 2016 income and tax information.”

Due to this change the application opened on Oct. 1, 2016. The UMKC priority deadline is now Feb. 1, 2017 instead of March. These changes are expected to make the application process easier since students will already have their tax information.

Students whose financial circumstances significantly changed since last year will have to fill out a Special Circumstances form. The Financial Aid office is prepared to see an increase in these forms because they realize a lot can change in two years.

“The Department of Education has provided additional guidance to Financial Aid Offices to look at conflicting information between the 2016-2017 FAFSA and the 2017-2018 FAFSA,” said Young. “So the Financial Aid Office may contact students to clarify if there is a discrepancy between the two years and students may need to provide documentation to address the discrepancy.”

Along with FAFSA, students should also consider applying for scholarships within the University. The new FAFSA deadline does not affect the scholarship application process.

All scholarships and deadlines are available at finaid.umkc.edu. There are several types of scholarships including those for incoming freshman, transfer students, continuing students and special scholarships within various departments.

The Financial Aid office has recently updated their scholarship site to allow more ways to filter and find exactly what the students need. Young emphasizes the importance for applying for scholarships. “I would always encourage students to apply for scholarships. It’s not always an easy process and can be similar to working a part time job. If you think about it, if you spend a couple of hours working on a scholarship for $1,000, you just made $500 an hour if you receive the award,” said Young. “Every dollar counts and the more you can get in scholarship funding, the less you may have to borrow or pay out of your pocket.”

You never know how much money you will be able to obtain until you give it a shot. FAFSA and scholarships give students the opportunity to put themselves in a better financial position each school year. For more information visit finaid.umkc.edu.

jclark@unews.com

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