Haven’t heard about the Higher Education Opportunity Act?
Well, guess what, if you are a student and a foster youth or alum there may be some things you should know about! FAFSA is a government student aid program that stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Applications are available Here.
However, thanks to the Higher Education Opportunity Act, there have been some changes to the aid this year. NASFAA (The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) has information about these changes in more detail. Here are just a few quick changes at a glance:
1) Federal Pell grants will probably go up, which means more potential money for you to go to college!
2) Foster Youth can now get housing help from different sources other than Chaffee!
3) Some of the definitions that the Federal Programs have used are going to change about foster youth, orphans, and wards of the court. Not sure exactly what yet, but from the looks of it this will mean more positive benefits to more people!
Some other things to know are that the FAFSA form is going to look a little different. You aren’t going to have to report untaxed income anymore, like income credits, welfare benefits, and untaxed social security benefits. Some of the FAFSA changes also include less total pages. Many of the questions have been put into other places, and some of the questions and pages have been completely gotten rid of, which means less time for you. There are also more and reworded questions about dependency, which for you means more questions intended to identify students in foster care past the age of 13, emancipated (made into a legal adult even if you are 16 or 17) minors, students in legal guardianship, and homeless students.
On July 1st of this year there will be some expanded eligibility requirements that could affect you. There will be a change when looking at the Academic Competitiveness Grants and SMART Grants. Also, eligible non-citizens will be able to access these grants. Interest rates for subsidized Stafford/Direct Loans will drop to 5.6 percent in July. More money for everyone!! Pell Grants are going to receive an additional $17.1 billion dollars so that more students can receive more financial aid.
Also $200 million dollars is going to be put into the College Work Study Program. There are lots of other possible changes to the FAFSA process that are being looked at right now as well. Again, if you have questions talk to your ILP provider or caseworker.