The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which is the application that college students fill out to see if they qualify for financial aid, will undergo a major change starting October 2016. Currently, college students and parents use tax data from the previous year in their FAFSA; starting next October, students and parents will use tax data from two years prior in their FAFSA (called prior-prior-year or PPY) which is anticipated to help speed up the financial aid process.
Utah college students are currently last in the nation in regards to FAFSA completion rates. While completing a FAFSA should be a critical step in applying to college, only 34 percent of eligible Utah students filed the FAFSA in 2013. With the implementation of FAFSA’s PPY starting next October, it is the hope that more Utah students and parents file the FAFSA and continue filing it each year a student is enrolled in college.
The FSA ID
The most recent change FAFSA implemented was replacing the PIN with an FSA ID in April 2015. Until then, students had to create a four-digit PIN (personal identification number) and enter personal identifiers such as Social Security Number, name, and date of birth each time they logged in, signed their FAFSA, and each time they logged into other federal student and borrower-based websites. The FSA ID includes a username and password which is all students need to sign their FAFSA and log into their FAFSA and other federal sites. This method is much more secure than a PIN since personal information is not entered every time a user logs in and is also more user-friendly. Students currently with a PIN have the option to link their PIN to their new FSA ID.