The U.S. Department of Education has made two major changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) this year that are expected to simplify the procedure for families planning to apply for aid.
- Your 2017-18 FAFSA can be filed early than ever. While previously families could not file until January 1, this year the Department of Education began accepting applications on October 1. This change is permanent, meaning that you will always be able to file your FAFSA from October 1 in the future.
- The FAFSA now reflects earlier tax and income information. For the 2017-18 FAFSA you will report your 2015 tax and income information, rather than your 2016 information as you would have in the past. If your income has changed significantly since the 2015 tax year, you will need to file your FAFSA with your 2015 information and contact your school’s financial aid office so that they may assess your situation and adjust your FAFSA accordingly.
These changes are expected to help families for a number of reasons. Primarily, the ability to submit your FAFSA in advance will provide more time to meet college deadlines and will allow you to examine your financial aid options earlier. Be sure to confirm financial aid deadlines, as some universities may have altered their deadlines accordingly.
The second change should make submitting the FAFSA much easier. Since this year’s FAFSA requires your 2015 tax and income information, you can submit information that you already have available. This means you no longer have to estimate numbers or log in to update your FAFSA after filing taxes. To make your life even easier, you may be able to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
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