Potential impacts of earlier FAFSA filing dates

Changes in the filing date and tax year data used to complete the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) will affect all colleges and universities, even those not planning to make changes in their aid programs, said John M. Baworowsky in the recent SEM Quarterly. Baworowsky, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at Marquette University, examined the potential impacts of the early filing date on institutional practices, presenting some of the practical aspects of this change for state aid, scholarships, tuition and fee rates.  


“Nicknamed ‘Prior-Prior Year,’ this will be one of the most significant changes impacting financial aid and student recruitment at all colleges and universities in the United States,” Baworowsky wrote. “Many national higher educational associations are enthusiastic about the new process.”


Baworowsky pointed out that colleges and universities essentially have two options: 1) make no changes to their financial aid processing and awarding timeline, their recruitment communications, or application deadlines; or 2) Adjust one or more of the above to respond to the earlier FAFSA filing deadline.


Institutions will likely experiment with a variety of options over the next few years, he noted, and will then evaluate the impact of those decisions on recruitment and retention.


“No doubt admission and financial aid directors will also be watching what their colleagues at other institutions do and how their plans affect their enrollments,” he said.


The July 2016 AACRAO 60-Second survey on the topic provides an insight into what institutions intend to do in response to this change.  From the 480 responding institutions we learned that:

  • Most (91%) who responded were aware of the change, and most (94%) also view the change as “good for students.”

  • Nearly seven out of ten (68%) indicate that the change will not impact the undergraduate admissions calendar.

  • Almost all (94%) say that the change will not impact the graduate admissions calendar.

  • For those who will make a change to their admissions calendar, most will move student outreach activities to an earlier date.

  • Among those who had concerns regarding implementation, about three out of four were concerned about there being a lack of definitive Federal and/or State funding information available at the earlier date.

  • Just slightly less than three out of four were concerned about their ability to package aid earlier and notify students earlier.

Volume 4, Issue 3 of SEMQ also includes articles by: Gerald Hector, Cornell University; Michael S. Flannigan, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Anita Gopel, University of Maryland, College Park. Topics include:

  • the role of enrollment management in understanding and seeking strong net revenue to fuel institutional health;
  • organizational culture in the SEM division; and
  • international student recruitment strategies.

SEM Quarterly, published by AACRAO and Wiley Periodicals, provides knowledge and insight into the ongoing evolution of strategic enrollment management (SEM). SEMQ bridges the gap between theory and practice with articles by thought leaders and practitioners who address the emerging dynamics of SEM, including: executive-level leadership, leading strategies, internationalization, research, academic orientation, and current trends.

Click here for a sneak peak at the January issue of SEMQ.

For more information, or to submit a manuscript, please contact Editor-in-Chief Tom Green at tomg@aacrao.org, or Managing Editor Heather Zimar at heatherz@aacrao.org.

Join us for in-depth SEM conversations at the AACRAO SEM Conference, Nov. 6-9, 2016, in San Antonio!