- Students applying for federal financial aid will be able to apply in October instead of January and post tax data from two years prior, changes that will allow for faster completion and quicker college choice for millions of students, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
- The influx of early decisions may put new stress on early admissions initiatives and thousands of colleges and universities, with some suggesting that it could reshape the way schools change tuition prices, which typically happens in the spring semester.
- Other observers believe earlier decisions on admission and aid will allow families to barter for higher financial aid packages from institutions, which could negatively impact enrollment.
Families having more insight into how much college will cost earlier in the decision-making process is good news from a consumer perspective, but it could prove cumbersome for financial aid and admission officers at institutions. Schools can do an effective job of projecting likely scholarship spending based on prior year enrollment trends, but the logistics of answering calls and emails for student inquiries about award changes could be more trouble than it is worth.
For institutions serving predominantly minority or low-income student bodies, the challenge of aid awarding and admission becomes that much more difficult for students who are unfamiliar with the application process, or who require more guidance on awards and eligibility. When added to potential changes to financial aid counseling and exit planning, this may require more staff for processing and engagement almost year-round to support maintaining or increasing enrollment numbers from year to year.