Can I Update My FAFSA Due to COVID-19?

There’s a lot of uncertainty in our world right now, and for high school students or current college students preparing for the fall semester, you likely have a lot of questions.

There are two primary questions that students are asking in regards to their FAFSA for the 2020-2021 academic year.

  • Can I update the asset portion of my FAFSA? (Ex. The stock market is unstable and so my parents’ assets have changed).

  • What if my parent has lost their job due to COVID-19 and our household income has changed?

If either of these questions relate to your family, you are probably asking, “Can I update my FAFSA for next year?” We want to help explain this for you and your family as you’re navigating the financial aid process.

Can I update the asset portion of my FAFSA? (Ex. The stock market is unstable and so my parents’ assets have changed).

The short answer is NO. The FAFSA is an application to apply for federal aid. There are federal rules that dictate when you can correct and when you can update a FAFSA. Generally, a student cannot update information that was correct as of the date the application was signed because the FAFSA is considered to be a “snapshot” of the family’s financial situation as of that date. What you put on the FAFSA was accurate at the time; however that snapshot in time does not reflect your current circumstance as your parents’ investments are now losing value. While you cannot update the FAFSA, you CAN contact the financial aid office to let them know that your FAFSA does not accurately reflect your current situation. This is known as the professional judgment process. Financial aid offices will take into consideration all of your requests and make decisions on a case-by-case basis, and you must document your reasons for your request for review. Each college's aid office will make their own decisions and if you are asking reviews from multiple colleges, they may all have a different way that they handle your circumstance.  We can’t tell you IF or HOW they will respond to the change in assets.  

What if my parent has lost their job due to COVID-19 and our household income has changed?

Again, the answer here is no in regards to updating your FAFSA. The 2020-2021 FAFSA requires 2018 tax information and this cannot be updated if there has been a loss of income due to job layoffs or unemployment related to COVID-19. You must complete the FAFSA using 2018 tax information and then begin a professional judgment process through the financial aid office at your school. You can let the FA office know that the 2018 income no longer represents your current situation. Once you provide any documentation requested by the college, the financial aid office will review your case. 

SwiftStudent is a FREE resource that helps you write your financial aid appeal letter. You'll be able to pick the situation that most applies to you and build your letter from their templates.  https://formswift.com/swift-student

What we CAN tell you is that we are in touch with MDE, IHL, Community College board, and individual college admissions and financial aid staff, and they are all paying attention to the concerns of their students.  We are encouraged to see how institutions are supporting their students in this time of need.  We hear story after story of college administrators being flexible and nimble and doing what they can to help their students.  Reach out to your college and reach out to Get2College as we are all here to help you.  Together we will meet the challenge.