College Students and Parents:
What You Need to Know About the 201718 FAFSA
Whats changing for 201718?
Starting with the 201718 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), these changes will be in effect:
- Youll be able to submit your FAFSA® earlier. You can file your 201718 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling you to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year.
- Youll use earlier income and tax information. Beginning with the 201718 FAFSA, students will be required to report income and tax information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 201718 FAFSA, youand your parent(s), as appropriatewill report your 2015 income and tax information, rather than your 2016 income and tax information.
The following table provides a summary of key dates as we transition to using the early FAFSA submission timeframe and earlier tax information.
|When a Student Is Attending College (School Year)
|When a Student Can Submit a FAFSA
|Which Years Income and Tax Information Is Required
|July 1, 2015June 30, 2016
|January 1, 2015June 30, 2016
|July 1, 2016June 30, 2017
|January 1, 2016June 30, 2017
|July 1, 2017June 30, 2018
|October 1, 2016June 30, 2018
|July 1, 2018June 30, 2019
|October 1, 2017June 30, 2019
How will the changes benefit me? We expect that youll benefit in these ways:
- Because the FAFSA will ask for older income and tax information, you will already have done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, and you wont need to estimate your tax information and then go back into the FAFSA later to update it.
- Because youll already have done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA. (Learn about the IRS DRT at www.StudentAid.gov/irsdrt)
- Because the FAFSA is available earlier, you may feel less pressure due to having more time to explore and understand your financial aid options and apply for aid before your states and schools deadlines.
Will FAFSA deadlines be earlier since the application is launching earlier?
We expect that most state and school deadlines will remain approximately the same as in 201617. However, several states that offer first come, first served financial aid will change their deadlines from as soon as possible after January 1 to as soon as possible after October 1. So, as always, its important that you check your state and school deadlines so that you dont miss out on any aid. State deadlines are on www.fafsa.gov; school deadlines are on schools websites.
Since the 201718 FAFSA asks for the same tax and income information as the 201617 FAFSA, will my 201617 FAFSA information automatically be carried over into my 201718 renewal FAFSA?
No; too much could have changed since you filed your last FAFSA, and theres no way to predict what might be different, so youll need to enter the information again. However, keep in mind that many people are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically import their tax information into the FAFSA, making the process of reporting tax information quick and easy.
Can I choose to report 2016 information if my familys financial situation has changed since our 2015 taxes were filed?
You must report the information the FAFSA asks for. If your familys income has changed substantially since the 2015 tax year, talk to the financial aid office at your school about the familys situation.
- Note: The FAFSA asks for marital status as of the day you fill it out. So if youre married now but werent in 2015 (and therefore didnt file taxes as married), youll need to add your spouses income to your FAFSA. Similarly, if you filed your 2015 taxes as married but youre no longer married when you fill out the FAFSA, youll need to subtract your spouses income.
Will I receive aid offers earlier if I apply earlier?
Not necessarily; some schools will make offers earlier while others wont. If youre thinking of transferring to another school, you might want to look at the College Scorecard at collegescorecard.ed.gov to compare costs at different schools while you wait for your aid offers to arrive. Note: You should be aware that the maximum Federal Pell Grant for 201718 wont be known until early 2017, so keep in mind that even if you do receive an aid offer early, it could change due to various factors.
How will I know what schools to list on the FAFSA if I havent decided which schools Ill be applying to?
List any schools youre considering applying to, and well send your FAFSA information to them. Later, if you decide to apply to additional schools that you didnt list on the FAFSA, you can log back in at fafsa.gov and add those schools.
Where can I get more information aboutand help withthe FAFSA?
Visit StudentAid.gov/fafsa; and remember, as you fill out your FAFSA at fafsa.gov, you can refer to help text for every question and (during certain times of day) chat online with a customer service representative.