The following information is provided by the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE):

    June 09, 2016

    New deadline set for Missouri’s largest student financial aid program 
    Report shows 66,000 students received state grants and scholarships for 2015-2016 

    More than 66,000 students received state financial aid to help pay for college during the 2015-2016 school year.

    Scholarships and grants awarded by the Missouri Department of Higher Education totaled about $121 million dollars, according to a report presented Thursday to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

    “State financial aid is essential to helping many students earn a college degree,” said Leroy Wade, interim commissioner of higher education. “Missouri is fortunate to have a number of grant and scholarship programs, and funding for several of those programs has increased in recent years.”

    Wade noted that the application timeline for the state’s largest financial aid program – the Access Missouri Grant – is changing for the 2017-2018 academic year. The 2017-2018 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which also serves as the application for the Access Missouri Grant, will be available Oct. 1 – three months earlier than in previous years.

    This change will allow students to file a FAFSA sooner, enabling colleges to provide financial aid information to students earlier than in the past.

    “The changes in the FAFSA ultimately will give students more time to make important decisions that are part of planning and paying for college,” Wade said.

    In addition, the department set Feb. 1, 2017, as a priority deadline for completing the FAFSA to be eligible for the Access Missouri Grant. The final deadline will be April 1, 2017.

    Students who meet the program requirements and file their FAFSA by the Feb. 1 deadline will be guaranteed a grant award. Students who apply after Feb. 1 but before the April 1 final deadline will be eligible to receive an award if sufficient funding is available. Missouri previously did not have a priority deadline.

    The Access Missouri Grant is the state’s only student aid program based on financial need. Last year, more than 48,000 Missouri students received funding through the program. The average grant award was $612 for students attending a public two-year college and $1,582 for students attending a four-year college.

    Grant amounts are determined primarily by available state funding and the number of students eligible to receive the grant each year. Specific award amounts are determined by students’ financial need, the type of college they attend and other financial aid they receive.

    The first step in completing the FAFSA is to obtain a FSA ID – a user name and password needed to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites. In 2015, the FSA ID replaced the PIN that students and families previously needed to fill out the FAFSA.

    “It is important for students and parents to understand the changes in the FAFSA and how to get an FSA ID in order to qualify for grants and scholarships,” Wade said. “High school counselors and college financial aid officers can answer many of the questions families have.”

    More information about obtaining an FSA ID can be found at fsaid.ed.gov.

    Improving college affordability is a primary goal in Missouri’s new coordinated plan for the state’s higher education system, adopted by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education in January. Helping more Missourians access student financial aid is one way the department is working to make college more affordable.

    For more information about financial aid – including all eligibility requirements – visit dhe.mo.gov/ppc/grants/.


    Article in Jefferson City News Tribune, September 15, 2016

    Filing for student financial aid starts Oct. 1
    By SARAH SKIDMORE SELL, AP Personal Finance Reporter 

     School may have just started but it's time to start thinking about next year if your child will be in college. That's because the date you can begin to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is three months earlier this year — Oct. 1. The FAFSA is used by schools to determine eligibility for student financial aid and is considered the most important document in getting help paying for college. It's advantageous to file it as soon as possible because some funding is distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. New federal rules also change which year's tax information to use in the application.

    A few things to know:

    SO SOON? Yes. The FAFSA filing period used to open on Jan. 1 but it is now Oct. 1. You still have until June 30th to complete the form but again, filing early means a better shot at assistance. Mark Kantrowitz, of the college information website Cappex.com, said that students who file the FAFSA during the first three months tend to get more than double the grants, on average, of students who file the FAFSA later. WHAT ELSE? Students and their families will also be required to report income from an earlier tax year, which is intended to make the process easier. When the FAFSA application period opened on Jan. 1, many families rushed to apply but didn't have all the necessary tax information and had to estimate it. Now applicants will use tax returns from one year earlier. So those applying for aid for the 2017-2018 school year will use their 2015 income information instead of 2016. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Families will be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer information from their federal income tax returns into the FAFSA. This will not only simplify the form, but also reduce the likelihood that the FAFSA will be selected for verification, Kantrowitz said. Any data that comes unmodified from the IRS to the FAFSA will not be subject to verification. Skipping verification will save families and colleges time and hassle, he said. He also notes that if 2016 income is lower than 2015, the family should appeal to the college financial aid administrator for a professional judgment review. Completing the FAFSA earlier means families can receive critical information like the Student Aid Report (SAR) sooner, says lender Sallie Mae. The SAR includes the Estimated Family Contribution, or EFC, which provides a clearer picture about eligibility for financial aid as families make decisions about colleges.


    The following websites are excellent sources for FAFSA help:
    FAFSA help


    A+ participants and their parents are required to complete and submit with the government as a good faith effort to secure all available federal post-secondary student financial assistance funds that do not require repayment. Information reported on FAFSA is required by post-secondary institutions to complete the enrollment process.

    Parents must complete and mail the online FAFSA form. The FAFSA information must be available to the public community college or vocational/technical school that the student is planning to attend.
    Parents of seniors are encouraged to apply as soon as possible after October 1. FAFSA forms are available and may be submitted online at www.fafsa.ed.gov by the April 1st deadline.  (Please read MDHE information above for the benefits of submitting sooner than April 1.)
    The Jefferson City School District does not have access to personal information submitted with the FAFSA.  The FAFSA is intended to be of no cost to students and parents.
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