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College bound students can apply for FAFSA now

Application offered earlier in 2016
Posted at 7:48 AM, Nov 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 09:48:39-05

Some high school seniors in Colorado may be spending part of their Thanksgiving break applying for college and financial aid. For those who haven't already, now is the time to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA.

This year, for the first time ever, the FAFSA was made available on October 1.  In past years, it wasn't available until January 1.  Filling out the FAFSA is a requirement for students to receive federal need-based grants, loans or work-study aid. Many colleges also required the FAFSA for students to receive merit-based scholarships.

Another big change this year -- applicants can now use their parents' prior year tax returns. Students entering college in the fall of 2017 can use their parents' 2015 tax return.  Until now, students had to use the current year tax return, which meant waiting until their parents filed or estimating the information and updating it later.

CU Boulder junior Louise Vasquez, who applied for more than a hundred scholarships in her senior year of high school, is now an expert on the process.  She had a few other tips for students.

"If you are a Colorado student, there's this website called College in Colorado and they have scholarships galore, it's amazing. And you can use websites like Fastweb," says Vasquez.

The FAFSA provides more than $150 billion dollars in student aid each year.

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