Prior-Prior Year’s Impact on Student Financial Aid and Admission
Prior-Prior Year’s Impact on Student Financial Aid and AdmissionAbby Hexter, Director, Communications
It was standing-room only at today’s Midwestern Regional Forum session on prior-prior year and financial aid. A remarkably even cross-section of counselors, financial aid professionals, and admission officers gathered to hear colleagues discuss the implementation strategy for prior-prior year and its potential challenges over the next several months.
Justin Ball, associate vice president for enrollment management at Bradley University; Diane Corbett, executive director of student financial aid at The Ohio State University; and Brad Lindberg, director of student financial aid at Grinnell College, joined Anne Sturtevant, the College Board’s executive director of higher education initiatives, to address the many questions that colleges, counselors, and students are asking about prior-prior year. Among them:
- How will this change affect professional judgment and how aid officers approach students with special circumstances?
- How will students’ enrollment behavior change as a result of having more financial aid information earlier?
- How can institutions leverage these opportunities for change to most benefit students and families?
- What are the practical implications for campus visits, early decision deadlines, and tuition setting?
- When should counselors start communicating the changes to students?
While there may not be clear answers to all these questions yet, the session provided a space for important discussion about these major considerations.
There are two parts to prior-prior year: the early availability of the FAFSA (available in October as opposed to January) and families’ ability to report income information from the two previous years. In practice, this means that students will receive earlier information about their financial aid packages and be able to make decisions about where they go to college with that information in-hand. The College Board also recently announced that the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE will accept prior-prior year income information as the base year for applying for institutional aid.
“If we think about this from the perspective of students and families, all of a sudden the timeline makes a lot more sense,” said Corbett. “These students and families will now be able to gather all their information and file the FAFSA in October. This is a tremendous opportunity.”
Institutions will need to take a hard look at their admission and business practices and policies, and consider making significant shifts in their admission and operational timelines. While this may bring about challenges for institutions, it also brings significant opportunity to disrupt the “business as usual” mentality.
The session ended with questions from the audience, and Sturtevant reiterated that the College Board will continue to communicate consistently with stakeholders and offer opportunities for counselors, admission officers, students, and financial aid professionals as they navigate the unchartered waters of prior-prior year.