Indiana announced today that the state’s March 10th FAFSA deadline would be extended to April 15th this year in response to the failure of a federal data retrieval tool that complicated the process for families attempting to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The state’s commissioner for higher education, Teresa Lubbers, made the announcement, which effects anyone seeking financial aid for college in Indiana.
“There were serious security issues found in the FAFSA system, but the federal government did not communicate many of these problems to the states. They simply turned off the data retrieval tool. This left thousands of Indiana families hanging,” said Eric Wignall, vice president for enrollment at Ancilla College. “Today’s announcement means Hoosiers can go back into incomplete online FAFSA forms and complete them. This also means, if people just didn’t do it– that they didn’t bother or forgot– they can do it now and get in under the deadline,” Wignall said. Anyone seeking financial aid to attend colleges or universities in Indiana can file the FAFSA, a free online form created to make the financial aid process faster and easier. Difficulties with the data retrieval tool– a tool meant to import previous tax data– surfaced early this year.
The extended deadline means that if the data import tool did not work, students and parents can go back and enter 2015 tax data by hand and still meet the deadline. https://fafsa.ed.gov/
“There were several changes to the FAFSA this year. The date it opened was earlier and the use of the prior tax year were changed to make filing easier. I don’t think anyone, at any level, thought there would be such a significant problem with importing the tax data,” Wignall said. This also means everyone gets another chance at financial aid in Indiana.
Financial aid increased for Hoosiers this year.
The change in deadline coincides with the state’s announcement of new funding for Indiana financial aid. Lower income Hoosier students can now qualify for more state aid than last year.
“The state’s Frank O’Bannon Grants, based on family income, were increased a great deal. For the poorest students, students who have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0, the grant increased $1,600. This is significant support for people who want to earn a college degree in Indiana. State aid increased to $9,000 a year for students going to private schools like Ancilla, and up to $4,500 for students going to state universities,” Wignall said.
“The increases mean more financial aid for the students who need it the most,” he said.
The federal Pell Grant was also increased for the 12017-2018 school year.The maximum Pell Grant for the 2017–18 award year is $5,920.
Ancilla College, like most schools, adds state aid and federal aid to a financial aid package that helps students pay for school.
“One difference for us, because we’ve kept our tuition and fees so low over the past few years these new grants cover nearly all our tuition costs. A 21st Century Scholar, another Indiana grant program for working families, will not pay a penny in tuition at Ancilla. If they have good grades and above average SAT or ACT scores, they also be eligible for scholarships,” Wignall said. “This combination of need-based aid, using a family’s income level, and incentive scholarships, based on grades and other criteria, can really pile up financial aid for students.”
There is no public data on how many Hoosier families this deadline extension affects. It applies to all adult learners, veterans, soon-to-graduate high school students, and anyone who wants to attend college in Indiana this coming year. Please get this information out to people. It’s not just about a tiny Catholic college in northern Indiana. This is a big deal for people across the state.