It’s after January 1, and if you are a high school older, you and your parents will be completing the particular 2015-2016 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) very soon (if a person haven’t already! ). The FAFSA is a centralized application that allows you to definitely complete the form and send its results to up to ten schools at any given time.
After studying their data, some colleges have determined that the order in which students list colleges on the FAFSA is highly correlated to the student’s college preferences (e. g., if a student lists a school first on their FAFSA, it is more likely his/her first choice than a school lower on the list). And there has been a few recent media attention about colleges using their positioning on a student’s FAFSA list in order to influence admission and scholarship plus aid decisions.
Here is what this might mean to you. The very first concern (if you want to call it that) is that if you list a university first on the FAFSA, that university might be more likely to admit you because they are trying to improve their “yield, ” i actually. e. the percentage of students who accept their offer of admission. Conversely, if you include a school toward the middle or finish of your list, the college might be less more likely to admit you, because they think you’re not as interested in attending. Lastly, there is some concern that schools award less aid to students who list them first on the FAFSA because those students possess a strong desire to attend the school and can not need as much aid to entice them to enroll.
At College Coach , we think that the use of FAFSA order within admission and aid decisions can be exaggerated, and that most colleges just use the information to try to predict their yield results. However , given that these concerns were brought to the particular Department of Education by the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the Department has added a few language to the FAFSA instructions to tell you that the order of colleges listed does not matter for federal aid purposes. They have also given you more very clear instructions about how to move the purchase of schools around when you total the online FAFSA.
To err on the cautious side, with regards to listing schools on your FAFSA, in College Coach we recommend that a person take the following steps:
- Check to see if your state give agency requires that you list a good in-state college first on the FAFSA to receive consideration for your state’s give program. Here’s a good way to learn who seem to the state agency is in your state: http://www.nasfaa.org/students/State_Financial_Aid_Programs.aspx
- After that, we suggest that you list your schools alphabetically. The colleges should recognize this as an alphabetical list and not a ranking of the preference for certain schools.
- We urge you not to worry too much about this. In an informal poll of our College Coach experts, none of the former employers changed an admission or scholarship/aid decision based on the placement of their institution on the FAFSA.
Also in response to issues voiced by NACAC, the Section of Education has added vocabulary to the FAFSA instructions to tell you that colleges to whom a person submit the FAFSA can see titles of the other schools you have listed. They suggest that if you don’t want schools to see the other colleges you are signing up to, you can submit your FAFSA to one school at a time. While this is possible, it can be very cumbersome if you are applying to various schools. You will have to wait 1-2 days between submissions to remove one school and add another, so distributing a FAFSA this way will require a few advance planning (to avoid lacking deadlines) and attention to detail. At College Coach, we don’t think it’s worth the hassle.
While we appreciate the Department of Education’s attempts to be more transparent in the FAFSA instructions, we think the applying to and financing college is difficult enough and how your colleges are usually listed on the FAFSA should not add to your stress. Our best advice – meet up with (and beat) deadlines, provide details that is as accurate as possible, plus stay in touch with the colleges’ educational funding offices if your family has any extenuating financial circumstances. They really are working hard to assist you!
Kathy Ruby is a member of College Coach’s team of college fund experts . Prior to joining College Coach, Kathy had been as a Senior Financial Aid Officer in St . Olaf College and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania .