With the application period for federal financial aid forms opening in October rather than January for the first time, education advocates are aiming to guide students and their families toward completing the process early.
Starting Oct. 1, students can begin submitting their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and California Dream Act Application forms.
Local officials have sprung into action to get the word out about the earlier date. The team running Richmond Promise, which provides college scholarships to all Richmond and North Richmond seniors, has launched an extensive campaign encouraging students to complete their forms. Applying for federal financial aid by the March 2 Cal Grant deadline is a requirement for eligibility in the Richmond Promise program. Richmond Promise applications are due March 10.
Richmond Promise provided this great guide of important dates for local students looking to tap both federal financial aid and up to $1,500 annually in Promise scholarships:
On Sept. 22, a Federal Financial Aid training session will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Alvarado Adult School in Richmond, 5625 Sutter Ave. Led by East Bay Consortium, the training is intended for those who are helping students complete financial aid applications this year. To register, go here.
Then on Oct. 29, the Ed Fund and partners will host the Getting Ready for College Conference from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium. More than 500 students and parents are expected to attend the event geared toward 10th, 11th and 12th graders.
“We will include financial aid completion as part of the event,” according to the Ed Fund.
Last year, President Obama announced the decision to release the federal student aid application in October instead of January on a permanent basis, allowing students to submit the application earlier.
Another change is families are now told to enter the previous year’s tax information. So families applying for financial aid this year will use their 2015 tax information rather than 2016. This means that every year, families no longer have to wait until the upcoming tax season to complete their college financial aid forms.