Changes are coming to the financial aid process that will make it easier to apply for help and plan ahead for college.

Beginning October 1, 2016, students will be able to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2017-18 year. This pushes the application date up by several months from the current January 1 opening date. Students will also be able to use tax information from two years earlier.

Why is this important?

656Filling out a FAFSA is the first step in getting federal money, including Pell Grants and work-study jobs at your college. Nearly 20 million FAFSA filers get access to federal grants each year – the vast majority of American college students. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.

The biggest mistake you can make with federal aid is assuming you don’t qualify, so even if you don’t think you’ll be eligible, you should apply. Many students qualify for the Pell Grant, which is money that you do not have to pay back.

“So many students do not apply for financial aid because they don’t think they will qualify, and they fear the process,” says Emily Hurdt, Financial Aid Coordinator at CCC. “The application process has become easier in recent years and can be done online, and we are always available to help. Students who apply are usually surprised at how much assistance they qualify for and the impact it has on their education.”

Streamlined process

The changes simplify the FAFSA a great deal. Students who apply early won’t have to update their applications with new income information, cutting down the often rigorous federal verification process.

The FAFSA is far less of a headache than it used to be. Once upon a time (not so long ago), filing for financial aid involved a 10-page workbook and poring over your family’s paper documents. Today, less than one-half of one percent of applicants fill out the paper version.

Now, the online form at auto-populates many of the answer fields for the application’s 108 questions using data already on file with the government through the IRS.

According to the U.S. Education Department, this has cut the filing time down to about 20 minutes on average.

How to apply (It’s as Easy as…)

1 – Get a FSA ID (personal identification number). When you start the FAFSA process, you will create your FSA ID. The username and password you create will be used with your FAFSA.
2 – Complete the FAFSA online at Be sure to list CCC’s school code: 008082.
3 – After submitting your FAFSA, CCC will contact you regarding next steps. Be sure to return any requested information.

Need help completing the FAFSA, or have questions?

Contact your local financial aid experts at 704-669-4028 or [email protected].

• Did you know that more than 70 percent of Cleveland Community College students receive some form of financial aid?
• Over $11 million awarded during 2015-2016.
• Types of financial aid: scholarships, childcare funds, Veterans assistance, PELL grants, and Work-Study.