Courtesy of Inside Higher Ed | Andrew Kreighbaum
An overwhelming majority of colleges and universities did not change priority aid deadlines in response to an earlier financial aid cycle last year, according to a survey of member institutions by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
The Department of Education last year moved up the release of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1 — a change made to give incoming college students more time to submit the applications and to consider financial aid offers before deciding on a college. The earlier aid cycle was also made possible by the adoption of prior-prior year income data in applications. That allowed students and families to submit tax information already on file with the government rather than estimating income before they submitted their taxes.
NASFAA found that those colleges that did move up their priority aid deadlines did so to give students and families more time to review financial aid offers. But respondents to the survey said even with earlier financial aid award letters, students did not make their college choice earlier than previous aid cycles.
The earlier aid deadline, however, may have resulted in more applications being filed in the first place. An analysis from the National College Access Network last week found that by June 30 applications were up 6 percent over the same period last year. For high school seniors, applications were up 9 percent, NCAN found.
(Note: This article originally misstated the beginning of the student aid cycle before the introduction of early FAFSA.)