Students can expect changes in financial aid and FAFSA dates

Flyers informing students of changes in financial aid policies adorn the wall of the Education and Arts Building, the temporary home of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. PHOTO/C.A. PRINTUP

Flyers informing students of changes in financial aid policies adorn the wall of the Education and Arts Building, the temporary home of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. PHOTO/C.A. PRINTUP

Staff Writer

Multiple financial aid changes will affect students over the year, from new refund disbursement dates to new FAFSA application deadlines and requirements.

Around August, the Office of Financial Aid started sending out emails to inform students about the changes to financial aid. Even though some students might have noticed the changes over summer if they were enrolled in summer courses, the changes had gone into effect during the spring semester.

However, students were supposed to be given sheets of paper stating these changes in the spring during registration. When they met with their advisors, the announcement was posted to the Daily Titan beforehand and signs were posted everywhere.

The announcement was sent out via email in August, because communication with students over the summer is difficult and students are likely to forget over the summer. August is also when students are most likely to check their student emails due to school starting, according to Jill Barnhart Bertrand, director of financial aid.

“[The refund disbursement date change] was a decision by the university systems,” Bertrand said. “It helps lower the default rate, because students who come in and take a financial aid refund and then withdraw have a hard time paying back their student loans.”

The new system will allow students to add and drop classes within that first week of school without being charged for the class they dropped. If they dropped a class but added another, the system allows them to not be mistaken for a part-time student.

According to the financial aid update sent to students via email, aid “will be disbursed to your IU student account beginning Monday, August 29.” It also states that students should wait two to three days for the money to be deposited into their bank accounts.

Students had mixed feeling about the financial aid being disbursed at a different time this year.

“I like how it’s organized. I just hate how it’s going to take a little longer for loans to disburse now,” junior Zack Doolen, 25, said. “I usually purchase my books with cash, and then I use the rest for leftover supplies, then the rest for emergencies and other last minute school items. It’s just going to take longer, but then again, I can see the benefit of it making sure people come to class. I can see the pros of it.”

Another national change made that most students do not know about is the FASFA changes. Not only has the date for the application’s availability been changed, from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1, but also what will be required to fill out the FASFA for the upcoming school year.

“The methodology has changed,” Bertrand said. “The base year of the taxes isn’t going to be the preceding year. It’s going to be two years before.”

Instead of using the tax returns for 2016, students will need to use tax returns from 2015, so most students’ financial aid will be the same for 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. However, these two academic years will be the only anomalies due to the change.

The date was changed so that incoming students can shop around for the best deals and returning students will know what to expect for the next school year instead of being blind-sided right before school starts, allowing them more time to find scholarships. It will also be easier for the financial aid office to meet with students who need verification in order for their financial aid to be processed.

The financial aid office will offer workshops when the application is open to students, in order to help with the transition.

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