AUGUSTA — The Finance Authority of Maine is reminding parents and students that this year they may file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid beginning Oct. 1.

Prior to this year the earliest the FAFSA could be submitted was Jan. 1 of the upcoming academic year. This late timing often resulted in students receiving their financial aid awards late in the college decision-making process.

The FAFSA is the form that families must submit to apply for federal grants, loans, and work-study funds for college students. It’s administered by the U.S. Department of Education, which provides more than $150 billion in student aid each year.

It’s no longer necessary to estimate income. Based on the old timeline, families were required to use the prior year’s tax information if tax returns for that year were not yet filed. Families would estimate income and then go back into the FAFSA and update income information after taxes had been processed. Students and their families will report 2015 tax income information for the 2017-18 academic year.This means that accurate, processed income information will be available when initially filing the FAFSA. Students can use the IRS data retrieval tool within the FAFSA to transfer 2015 income information from the IRS directly into the FAFSA.

“Completing and submitting the FAFSA is the single most important thing a family can do to get assistance paying for college, and it’s one of the best ways to minimize student loan borrowing,” said Martha Johnston, director of education for FAME. “Too often, we see students who don’t complete the FAFSA or submit it late and miss critical deadlines and they often miss out on potential grants.”

Maine students left $11.5 million in Pell Grants on the table for the 2014-15 academic year, according to the financial website NerdWallet. The average student debt in Maine is $31,000 per student, and 68 percent of Maine students graduate with debt.

FMI: www.famemaine.com.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.