Prior Prior Year for College Prospects - Iowa College Access Network - ICAN

Prior Prior Year for College Prospects

Finding the right college to be a home away from home is a big decision for high school seniors and their families. Filling out forms, writing essays, and completing applications compounds it. Then there’s the wait …  “am I accepted?  And will I be able to afford to go to my top choice schools?”

Starting the search process during a student’s junior year, then waiting until January of their senior year before applying for federal student aid  has meant an extended period of indecision. With the FAFSA deadline so poorly aligned with the college application calendar, it couldn’t help but create obstacles for students trying to meet priority filing deadlines, resulting in stressful and less informed enrollment choices.

It has been a challenging system for anyone, and for underrepresented and low-income students, it could be a serious deterrent.

The new prior-prior year FAFSA filing system will allow students to submit their FAFSAs in October by accepting tax information on the year prior-prior to their enrollment (e.g. students enrolling in fall 2017 will be allowed to submit 2015 tax information for federal student aid)

At Cornell we anticipate helping students wherever they are in the process and whenever they choose to start their search and apply. The following benefits from Prior-prior year to make it easier for incoming college students:

  • More students will be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to easily import verified IRS tax returns, making it so fewer families will be vulnerable to making mistakes on their applications.
  • All students will have their prior-prior tax information ready when applications for FAFSA open, giving them equal opportunity to be considered for all available funds.
  • Families will feel empowered to make decisions about which schools fit their financial situation months earlier, rather than feeling rushed to make this important decision with deposit deadlines looming.
  • Students who are confident in their final college choice could deposit with early-decision schools as early as December, then enjoy a low-stress end to their senior year and focus on the fun of planning for college move-in day.

At Cornell, we’ve made the following adjustments to our application schedule in order to prepare to offer the best support possible to our prospective students and their families:

November 1 : Early Action and Early Decision
December 1: Early Action II
February 1: Regular Decision and Early Decision II

This fall these theories will be put to the test. We look forward to seeing if the new process helps students and families feel more empowered in the college search process.

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