More than 10,000 students still haven’t submitted their FAFSA for the upcoming year, leaving Kennesaw State officials worried that students may not receive their financial aid in time for final payment deadlines.
Financial Aid Director Ron Day said a large portion of students who complete the FAFSA each year are chosen by the U.S. Department of Education for an “audit,” or verification of data. The audit requires the student to submit various forms, including IRS transcripts, household verification and non-filer forms. These forms must be filled out completely and submitted before the student can receive his or her financial aid.
KSU’s financial aid department anticipates around 18,000 students will have to be verified for 2017-2018. Because a significant portion of students must go through this process and many still have not submitted their FAFSAs, it could mean students who wait any longer will not receive their financial aid until after final payment deadlines, forcing students to pay out of pocket.
According to Day, 85-90 percent of KSU students receive some form of financial aid, amounting to around $325 million each year.
“We will work as hard and diligently as possible to ensure all eligible students receive the aid they are entitled to receive,” Day said. “However, we need students to assist us so we can assist them. Without students following these federally mandated processes immediately, I fear what I will call ‘a perfect storm’ scenario occurring in fall 2017.”
Day’s “storm” will see many of these 10,000 KSU students — 28 percent of the student population — waiting to submit their applications, only to then have their financial aid delayed.
In 2016, the Obama Administration made the FAFSA filing process easier for students. Under the previous rules, the FAFSA couldn’t be completed until the January before the academic year. Now students can submit the paperwork as early as Oct. 1.
The form now also uses “prior-prior-year tax data.” That means that, for the upcoming school year starting fall 2017, the FAFSA uses the applicant’s tax information from 2015.
Basically, this is important because it means a student doesn’t have to wait to file last year’s taxes before completing the FAFSA.
Day emphasized the importance of not making any changes to 2015 tax information, unless there has been an official change made through the U.S. Department of Education.
“If any change is noted, the department ‘locks down’ both the aid for 2016-2017 and 2017-2018,” Day said. “It then requires submission of many forms of documentation. If the documents are not received within 30 days, it requires that all aid be removed from both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.”
He explained that this means any finds received for last year could be removed, and the student could suddenly owe all that money back to KSU.
Students can fill out their 2017-2018 FAFSA at fafsa.gov. The deadline for students to submit their FAFSA for the fall 2017 is May 1.