CHICAGO — DePaul University, the largest Catholic university in the United States with nearly 24,000 students, is preparing to make changes in its financial aid application process to align with initiatives announced this week by the Obama administration.
The federal plan is designed to make it easier for students and families to apply for and access federal grants and loans.
Among the steps outlined by President Barack Obama is a move to allow prior-prior year (PPY) data on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. Students and families will be able to apply for financial aid earlier – starting in October as the college application process gets underway – rather than in January, according to the White House fact sheet at http://bit.ly/DPU_PPY.
“Beginning on Oct. 1, 2016, students can apply for financial aid a few months after they and their parents file their 2015 tax returns with reliable information retrieved electronically from the IRS, rather than waiting until the next year’s tax season to finalize their FAFSAs and to learn about their financial aid,” according to the White House.
DePaul is already in the process of reviewing what needs to be done in-house to bring our processes in line with these changes, according to David Kalsbeek, senior vice president for enrollment management and marketing.
“Higher education institutions and others have long advocated for these changes to allow students and families to gain a truer and earlier picture of the affordability of their college choices,” said the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University.
Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul, noted that the new initiatives have the potential to eliminate a great deal of uncertainty for students and families about selecting a college.
“But this new federal policy will require colleges and universities to rethink practices that have changed little in the last half-century. There probably will be changes needed farther back upstream, and it will take some time to think these through and have them in place before October 2016,” Boeckenstedt said.
Paula Luff, the associate vice president for enrollment services who oversees DePaul’s Office of Financial Aid, said she expects the Department of Education to issue guidelines and regulations to ensure the process is streamlined and consistent.
“These changes will affect the full spectrum of institutional processes and timelines and systems related to how we currently process, package and award financial aid,” Luff said.
According to Kalsbeek, “This is a game-changing new direction in the aid application process with significant implications for families filing for aid.”
More information about financial aid at DePaul University is online at http://bit.ly/DPU_OFA.