FAFSA Change Complicates Financial Aid Process, College Scholarships for 2017 May Help

FAFSA Change Complicates Financial Aid Process, College Scholarships for 2017 May Help
Susan Dutca-Lovell

Finding a way to pay for college is a whole mess in itself. Add to that the stress of filling out a FAFSA and now, the removal of a key I.R.S. tool that made the process somewhat less difficult, and you have millions of students in limbo, panicking about how they will pay for college.

On March 3, in the middle of the college scholarship and financial aid application season, students and families noticed that the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) stopped functioning while filling out their FAFSA. The tool, which automatically pulls information from applicants' tax returns via a data connection with the I.R.S. was temporarily suspended due to the "concern about a possible misuse by identity thieves." Without the DRT, students must either get their information from old tax returns or order a transcript from the I.R.S., which could take several weeks to receive. Furthermore, they must manually enter their personal information and will likely endure a long, tedious verification process or audit, to prove that their tax information is correct.

$2.7 billion in free college scholarships, grants and other FAFSA college aid was left on the table in 2015 and in 2014, an overwhelming 1,445,732 high school graduates did not fill out the FAFSA. Why is so much scholarship and financial aid money left unclaimed? Analysts claim that students aren't applying because they feel that they don't qualify, applications aren't being completed or FAFSAs are being rejected due to errors. With the DRT currently suspended, students risk having their college scholarships and financial aid delayed or jeopardized.

As tuition costs are increasing and applying for, and securing financial aid is becoming increasingly more difficult, there are certain ways to earn free scholarship and grant money. Financial aid in the form of college scholarships are available at colleges and universities but are also offered by other outside entities, such as non-profit organizations and free college scholarship search websites, like College scholarships, which do not have to be repaid, do not require application through FAFSA but rather, direct application to the college scholarship provider. So while you wait to see how much you can receive in federal financial aid, take a minute to see what other 2017 college scholarships you may qualify for.

We make it simple and match you to college scholarships you qualify for.