Changes in federal financial aid process could benefit thousands of students

Posted at 8:47 PM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 22:47:04-04

OGDEN, Utah – Students who have applied for federal financial aid know it can be a long and daunting process.

But the White House is rolling out some changes that could speed things up. When students apply for college, they look at affordability. Some students rely on financial aid to cover the costs, but they don’t always find out how much they qualify for. The Obama Administration is tweaking the federal financial aid program so that students can get a hold of that money sooner.

FOX 13 News spoke to students at Weber State University about the process to apply for financial aid.

“At first, I was overwhelmed, I didn’t know how to apply, I didn’t know about financial aid,” said student Cristina Mayorga.

Mayorga said it was stressful trying to figure out how to pay for college.

She filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. The sophomore learned that she qualified for federal loans and grants. The problem is students don’t find out how much they qualify for until later in the spring and that doesn’t give them much time to know if they’ll have enough money to cover tuition.

“In the recent past, students would have to file their taxes before they complete the FAFSA,” said Jed Spencer, director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at Weber State.

President Obama announced students can now submit their FAFSA forms in October, three months earlier than they can now. Students can also use their parent’s tax return forms from two years prior.

“This new program will allow the students to apply almost a year before the semester starts and have the documentation to complete the verification,” Spencer said. “That will really help to expedite the process.”

Gary Duran also attends Weber State.

“My first year I didn’t apply, I was reached out to by the student multicultural center,” Duran said.

Duran missed out on crucial dollars to fund his education, but he applauds the changes and says more students can make decisions earlier.

“I received about $5,500 per year, per academic school year so that paid for tuition, my fees and my books. Because I live at home it’s allowed me to be able to spend some of that money on the fuel commuting back and forth from home and to school,” Duran said.

The changes go into effect October 2016.

Students who are interested in finding out more about a college’s loan repayment rates, graduation rates or how much alumni earns, the White House also launched a new website. Check it out at