The Office of Financial Aid would like to share with you regulatory changes to federal financial aid for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Early FAFSA

Students are now able to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) earlier. Students have been able to file a 2017-2018 FAFSA since October 1, 2016, rather than beginning on January 1, 2017. The earlier submission date is a permanent change, enabling students to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year effective with the 2017-2018 FAFSA.

In addition, beginning with the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students are required to report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) must report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information. For the 2018-2019 FAFSA, 2016 income information will be reported.

IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)

The IRS DRT provides tax data that automatically fills in information for part of the FAFSA. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) turned off the DRT following concerns that data from the tool could be used by identity thieves to file fraudulent tax returns. As enhancements are made to protect the sensitive data, the IRS DRT will be available to use on the 2018-20169 FAFSA form on October 1, 2017. The IRS DRT will not return for use for either the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 FAFSA forms.

FSA ID Enhancements

On May 14, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) implemented several enhancements to improve the FSA ID experience.

The FSA ID enhancements include the following:

  • A user who has forgotten his or her username or password, or who has an FSA ID account that is locked, can request for a secure code to be texted to his or her verified mobile phone. Note: Users can still use the existing account recovery methods if desired.
  • The “significant date” challenge question is now optional.
  • The option to link a Federal Student Aid PIN to the user’s FSA ID has been removed.
  • A fact sheet, Creating and Using the FSA ID, provides you with additional information.

Federal Direct Loan Interest Rates for 2017-2018

Interest rates vary depending on the loan type and the first disbursement date of the loan. The chart below provides interest rates for Federal Direct Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2017 and before July 1, 2018. All interest rates are fixed rates for the life of the loan. Note: The interest rates for federal student loans are determined by federal law.

The chart below shows the current interest rates for Federal Direct Loans.

Interest Rates for Direct Loans First Disbursed on or after July 1, 2017

Loan Type Borrower Type Loans first disbursed or or after 7/1/17 and before 7/1/18
Direct Subsidized Loans Undergraduate 4.45%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Undergraduate 4.45%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Graduate or Professional 6%
Direct PLUS Loans Parents and Graduates or Professional Students 7%

Federal Sequestration Impacts Loan Fees

Most federal student loans have loan fees that are a percentage of the total loan amount. The loan fee is deducted from each loan disbursement you receive. Even though this means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrowed, you are still responsible for repaying the entire amount of the borrowed loan.

The chart below shows the current loan fees for Federal Direct Loans.

Loan Type First Disbursement Date Loan Fee
Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans
On or after 10/1/16 and before 10/1/17
1.069%
On or after 10/1/17 and before 10/1/18 1.066%
Direct PLUS Loans On or after 10/1/16 and before 10/1/17 4.276%
On or after 10/1/17 and before 10/1/18  4.264%

Federal Sequestration Impacts TEACH Grants

The TEACH Grant program provides grants to students who intend to teach full time in high-need subject areas at schools that serve students from low-income families.

The chart below shows the sequester-required TEACH Grant award reductions.

Award Year
Impacted Awards
Statutory Maximum Scheduled Award Amount
Percentage Reduction Amount from Maximum Award Amount
Dollar Reduction Amount from Maximum Award Amount
Adjusted Maximum Award Amount
2016-17 First disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2016, and before Oct. 1, 2017
$4,000 6.9% $276.00 $3,724.00
2017-18 First disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2016, and before Oct. 1, 2017 $4,000 6.9% $276.00 $3,724.00
First disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2017, and before Oct. 1, 2018
$4,000  6.6%  $264.00  $3,736.00 

Maximum Pell Grant Amount

For the 2017–18 award year (July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018), the maximum Pell Grant award amount is $5,920.

Do you have questions about financial aid? If you haven’t yet applied to Walden, please contact an enrollment advisor at 1-866-492-5336 in the United States. If you are a current student, please contact a financial aid advisor at finaid@mail.waldenu.edu or call 1-800-WALDENU (1-800-925-3368).

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