Even though the Coronavirus pandemic is causing havoc on colleges and schools, things will eventually return to normal and students will still apply to colleges.
To that end, every year, millions of families use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for student loans for college. While the FAFSA is a relatively straightforward form, it is very detailed and requires parents to submit significant documentation to secure student aid for their kids.
What to Expect With Your 2020-2021 FAFSA Filing
As parents across the country prepare to file their FAFSA forms for the 2020-2021 school year, it’s vital they know a few key changes implemented to the FAFSA process.
US News reports:
“This year, one of the most significant changes to the FAFSA is the addition of a new question, triggered by the IRS’ elimination of certain income tax forms. Experts say this could have an impact on students’ expected family contribution, or EFC, which is a number generated by information provided on the FAFSA and used to estimate a family’s ability to pay for college.”
The first reason behind the changes to the FAFSA is the series of tax code changes that recently took effect. Families filing the FAFSA will no longer need IRS forms 1040A or 1040EZ, which the recent tax code changes eliminated. The FAFSA will no longer ask for these forms but will instead ask if the applicant has filed a Schedule 1 form, followed by a set of six possible exceptions. Families that filed their 2018 tax year returns with Schedule 1 forms should have these forms readily available when they complete their FAFSA filings.
New Functionalities and Streamlined Applications
The other major change to the FAFSA process is due to the implementation of a new smartphone and tablet-friendly application. Parents who have filled out FAFSA applications in previous years for their kids will likely notice some significant differences when they fill out the FAFSA for the 2020-2021 school year.
The mobile-friendly FAFSA application launched for the 2019-2020 school year and uses skip logic functionality to streamline the application process. This functionality makes it easy for applicants to skip over questions they don’t need to answer and ultimately strives to make the FAFSA filing process much faster and more intuitive.
Filing Your FAFSA Faster and Easier
Another tool available from the Department of Education aims to make FAFSA filing even easier, especially when it comes to tax-related questions. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is a fantastic way to automatically import tax information to the FAFSA form. To complete the 2020-2021 FAFSA, applicants will need to use their 2018 tax returns or their parents’ 2018 tax returns to determine their eligibility. The Department of Education reports that about 50% of applicants use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, so be sure to check it out if you want to make your 2020-2021 FAFSA easier to complete.
Completing the FAFSA can seem like a major challenge, and new changes are always daunting because the assumption is that any errors in the form can lead to diminished eligibility for a child to receive federal student aid for college. Take your time when filing your 2020-2021 FAFSA and do not be afraid to reach out for help if you are lost. The College Benefits Research Group exists to make the college application process easier. If you need assistance with your 2020-2021 FAFSA or want more information about scholarship and grant eligibility, student loan repayment, and college admissions, contact CBRG today to find out how we can help.