“Prior-Prior Year”: What It Is, and Why It’s Important to Start Planning Now
“Prior-Prior Year”: What It Is, and Why It’s Important to Start Planning NowAbby Hexter, Associate Director, Communications and Marketing
All Access sits down with the College Board’s Vice President for Higher Education Access and Strategy Connie Betterton and Executive Director for Higher Education Initiatives Anne Sturtevant to discuss “prior-prior year” (PPY) and get to the bottom of what educators and students can expect.
All Access: Let’s start with the basics. What is “prior-prior year” and why is everyone talking about it right now?
Anne : President Obama recently announced that beginning in October 2016 for the 2017-18 academic year, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be available earlier —in October, rather than January — and the FAFSA will now use tax information from two years ago (prior-prior year) — as opposed to last year.
Connie: Here at the College Board, we’re excited about the many potential benefits for students, including being able to file the FAFSA and get federal aid eligibility information earlier, and the likelihood that more students will complete the FAFSA. At the same time, we believe that this change will have big impacts on higher ed and counselors, and on both the admission and financial aid processes, and so it’s important for our higher ed members to begin engaging and planning as soon as possible.
All Access: What should higher ed be preparing for?
Connie: The earlier financial aid application timeline has the potential to affect admission and financial aid deadlines and notifications, as well as student outreach and recruitment activities. In the longer term, PPY will allow counselors and access organizations more time to advise students about college affordability.
Anne: For financial aid professionals, the implementation of PPY will affect many things — including policies, operations, and systems. While we hope that PPY will reduce the federal verification burden for both students and aid offices, Pell and state grant allocations might not initially align with earlier awarding timelines. In addition, institutions could receive more appeals from students whose incomes change significantly from year to year. Aid offices are great at dealing with change, and these are the kinds of impacts they’ll need to consider and manage.
All Access: How should higher ed start preparing?
Connie: First, we recommend that higher ed leaders start planning now , so they are ready to make decisions and begin rolling out changes in communications early in calendar year 2016 . We’ve spoken with a number of members who have already started this work, and based on those conversations, we have the following recommendations:
- Get up to speed on the change and its impacts as quickly as possible.
- Form a strong partnership with admission/enrollment and financial aid to assess and analyze impacts, educate campus stakeholders, and make recommendations and decisions
- Initiate and/or continue conversations with key campus stakeholders and decision makers.
- Provide input to the College Board on key issues and support needs. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
All Access: So what’s next for the College Board and its members?
Anne: The College Board is in a unique position to understand and support this shift because our members are focused on all aspects of the high school-to-college transition. We’re really looking forward to working with all of our members to listen, provide support, and help ensure that students are able to benefit from this shift. We encourage everyone to join the conversation and participate in our upcoming assembly meetings that will take place at the College Board Forum, Nov. 4–6 in Washington, D.C. Or, if you aren’t attending the Forum, we encourage you to email us with issues and ideas at email@example.com .
[The College Scholarship Service Assembly will meet on Thursday, Nov. 5 from 2:45 to 4 p.m. ET, and the Guidance and Admission Assembly will meet on Thursday, Nov. 5 from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. ET. Register online for the Forum.]
Connie: We’re very optimistic about the benefits that PPY will bring for students, and we’re committed to helping support higher ed, counselors, students, and their families and tackling this broad-reaching shift together.
Thanks, Anne and Connie! And remember — members can continue to find updated information right here on All Access as this process moves forward.
For more information about the move to PPY and what it means for you and your students, we encourage you to visit the following links: