By Jerick E. Leblanc/Staff Writer/@jerickjake

Changes in Free Application Federal Financial Aid for 2017 will provide additional untapped resources to college students, said David Levy, editor edvisors.com.
LBCC students who incorrectly file the application commonly known as FAFSA can miss out on money for college and can shortchange the aid they receive. Levy, provides resources for students with questions about financial Aid.
Occupational therapy student Gabriela Aguilar, 18, said, “I applied last summer and I found the application process a bit complicated.” Aguilar said that although the staff in the financial aid office were really helpful, she still had to stand in line and that “the lines were really long and I had to wait for an hour.”
Levy reminds students that two federal applications will available in 2016. This year college freshmen and sophomores applying for Financial Aid will need to file one application for the 2016-17 academic year and a separate one, available Oct. 1, for the 2017-18 academic year.
“This change enables students to apply for Financial Aid before or at the same time they apply for admission, allowing cost considerations to influence the student’s choice of colleges,” Levy said in an email.
Deputy director Franc Menjivar, 43, said, “We have many students that apply for FAFSA but don’t end up coming to LBCC.” Menjivar estimates about 70% of students are on some form of Financial Aid and he suggests “students should get to know all the resources available to them and ask questions.”
Menjivar said that as of last week, March 11 the Financial Aid office received 31,465 applications and that 15,000 students are on financial Aid. “There’s still more applications arriving daily as Spring semester is still going on and there’s still Summer and so on,” he said.
“Previously, colleges could see the full list, in preferential order. On a student’s FAFSA and some may have used this to influence college admissions and financial aid decision,” Levy added. “The list of colleges will still be submitted to the state in which the student resides so that they can evaluate student’s eligibility for state grants.”
Undeclared major Javier Ramirez, 19 said, “I found the application process easy. I filled out the paperwork online and when I had questions I came here at LAC and they answered them for me.” Ramirez has been on financial aid the past two years and said it helps his family financially to pay for his education.
While still seven months away, students and their families are encouraged to use the IRS data retrieval tool to simplify filing for the 2017-18 academic year. “This move to prior-prior year should streamline the application process for many students and their families,” Levy said.
Edvisors published the third edition of its best-selling book, Filing the FAFSA: The Edvisors Guide to Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, 2016-17, and is available at edvisors.com. Families can turn to it with questions and tips on the proper way to fill out the application for financial aid.
LBCC’s Financial Aid offices are in PCC GG102 and LAC A1075. The hours of operation are Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.-noon. More information is available by calling PCC at (562) 938-3155 or LAC at (562) 938-4046, and online at LBCC.edu/financialaid.