Jill Haley: What’s new in college admissions | TheUnion.com

Jill Haley: What’s new in college admissions

Photo for The Union John Hart
Jorn Hart | The Union

The college counseling world is abuzz with news about changes to financial aid, applications and the new SAT.

Let’s begin with the financial aid news.

About a week ago, President Obama signed an executive action that will make important changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA is the main document that families file to be eligible for financial aid.

Beginning next year (the school year 2017-2018), the FAFSA will be available in October instead of January.

This means that families can use prior tax returns when filling out the FAFSA.

This is significant in several ways:

— For starters, this means that families do not have to scramble to file their taxes in January, or estimate what their taxes may be. They can now file tax forms that have already been filed and verified by the IRS using the data retrieval tool.

— More importantly, the early filing of the FAFSA may be a game changer in the college search and selection process for families. The time line of releasing financial aid information early may give parents information on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) before they file college applications. Knowing their eligibility for financial aid could change which colleges the student applies to.

— Hopefully, another benefit would be that the early filing and the use of last year’s tax forms will allow more students to apply for financial aid. Removing the barrier of early tax filings will simplify the process and make it more user-friendly.

As many of you have already heard, CollegeBoard is totally overhauling their college admission’s test, the SAT.

Students who take the PSAT in October will get the first look at the new format.

Changes include:

— A shorter total test time (shorter by almost 45 minutes.)

— The redesigned SAT will return to the 1600 scale; Reading and Writing will combine for one section score, and math for the other.

— The essay will no longer be a mandatory part of the test

— The new SAT will also no longer give a penalty for a wrong answer, allowing students to guess with out loosing points.

— The new format more closely resembles the other college admission’s test — the ACT.

The new SAT is partnering with Khan academy to provide an individualized study guide based on a student’s results on the PSAT.

Also on Khan’s site will be four full-length tests that students can takes as a practice tests.

Other big news involves a new application platform called The Coalition Application.

This application has already been adopted by 80 colleges and will launch in January 2016.

The Coalition Application is a direct competitor to the widely used Common Application.

What is unique about the Coalition Application is that each student will have a virtual locker in which to put assignments, essays, photos and projects.

The goal is to have an application that encourages introspection and reflection.

Stay tuned for more information on this new application.

Jill Haley is a retired high school counselor, who now works as an independent college counselor. She can be reached at http://www.getyouintocollege.com or jillncca@gmail.com.

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