Filling out the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, should be much easier for students and parents this year.
That's because the application period is opening three months earlier than usual, on Oct. 1. High schools throughout the region will also be hosting workshops where high school seniors, college students and adults interested in going back to school can get help from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.
"It’s gonna streamline the application process for most of the students who are planning on going back to school," said John Bergman, an outreach counselor for the region with KHEAA.
Schools use the FAFSA to determine students' eligibility for financial aid. Previously, the FAFSA didn't open for application until Jan. 1, meaning families often had to estimate some figures because they lacked the required tax information.
Now, families will be able to use their tax information from one year earlier. So those applying for the 2017-18 school year will use their income from 2015.
But more time to apply doesn't mean families have more time to put it off, Bergman said.
"They might be eligible for state aid and that state aid is first come, first serve," he said.
There's not much of an excuse for putting it off, either, since it's easier to apply. Bergman will be visiting high schools in the region to provide one-on-one or group sessions with parents looking for help applying, he said.
Workshops are available throughout the day at different locations, but an upcoming one at the Warren County Public Library's main branch is perhaps the most convenient for locals. The workshop lasts from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 4.
"We wanted to be a part of that process to make sure that the word got out," said Monica Edwards, the library's community outreach manager.
Edwards urged applicants not to procrastinate because otherwise they might not get all the financial aid they need to afford college. Applicants might also discover other steps they need to take after attending the workshops, she said.
"The sooner you get started the better your chances are to get the amount of financial aid that you need," she said.
— Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.