OFSA responds to questions about the new FAFSA

September 6, 2016
  • AACRAO Connect
  • Financial Aid and FAFSA
Stack of books with a jar of money labeled "college" visible in front of the books.

During AACRAO’s August 25th webinar “Practical Implications for the 2017-2018 FAFSA on Admission and Enrollment Management Offices,” (co-sponsored by the College Board and NACAC), Claire Fluker, Awareness and Outreach Specialist in the Office of Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education, responded to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the 2016-17 FAFSA.

Summaries of her comments can be found below.

(To view the complete webinar, visit the webinar page and click “Register Online.” You will receive a link to the archived video in your email.)

Q. With concerns about how moving up aid deadlines will impact low-income and first-generation students, how should schools balance the longer versus earlier window for aid applications?

A. The goal of the change is to allow students and families more time to make college decisions. We moved up the launch three months not so deadlines would also move up three months. We want students to have more time to make those decisions.

That’s why we’re encouraging institutions to provide aid packages as early as possible without moving up any priority deadlines.

Q. Must institutions review all students’ 2016-17 and 2017-18 ISIRs to determine if there is conflicting information because both are to be completed using the same 2015 income and tax information?

A. Not all ISIRs will need to be reviewed for conflicting information.

Under certain circumstances, students ISIRs will be flagged with a “C” code – conflicting information comment code. In those cases, institutions are usually required to do some resolution to determine why this code has arisen.

There is a difference between a “warning edit” and a “C” code. If there’s a discrepancy when the student is filling out the FAFSA, the software will trigger a warning for the student asking “Are you sure you want to continue?” If that warning code occurs, it will be on the ISIR but does not automatically require institutional resolution. The “C” code will only appear if there is conflicting information that has a significant impact on the applicant’s EFC and resultant Pell eligibility. The ISIR will not be flagged for institutional resolution if that student is not expected to be Pell eligible, if there was a change in dependency or marital status, and/or if professional judgment was performed in either year.

Q. Will Pell Grant award and disbursement schedules or institutional campus-based allocations be released earlier?

A. Probably not. Development and released of the Pell Grant schedule and campus-based allocations are dependent on Congressional action, which likely will not occur earlier than what has occurred over the past several years.

Q. Will the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) be available when FAFSA start-up begins on October 1, 2016? Will the IRS be ready to accept IRS tax return transcript requests on that date?

A. Yes! We are hoping more students and familes will be able to use the IRS DRT with the change to using earlier tax data.

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Following Fluker’s comments, Dr. David B. Johnson, Vice Provost for the Office of Enrollment Management (OEM) at Indiana University, and Alison Buckley, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services at Howard Community College, spoke about how their offices are handling the change.

To view this and previous webinars about FAFSA and many other topics, visit AACRAO’s webinar page.