The 2017–18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) season will begin earlier than previous FAFSA application cycles. Beginning on Oct. 1, 2016, students will be able to fill out the FAFSA for the 2017–18 school year. In addition, applicants will no longer need to estimate income and tax information and will be able to retrieve their data directly from the IRS, right from the first day the FAFSA is available. Students also will have information about their Expected Family Contributions earlier, helping them as they’re going through the college application and selection process.
Recent research and the Department of Education’s own data suggest that implementing an earlier start date and using earlier income information will benefit students. Benefits include:
(a) alignment— the financial aid application process may be more aligned with the college admission process,
(b) certainty—applicants will not need to estimate income or taxes paid, and
(c) less pressure—more time for students and parents to explore and understand financial aid options and apply for aid before state deadlines.
You’ll use earlier income and tax information. Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students will be required to report income and tax information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, you—and your parent(s), as appropriate—will report your 2015 income and tax information, rather than your 2016 income and tax information. This change will make the FAFSA easier because you’ll already have done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, and you may be able to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA.
Did you know that you might be eligible for financial aid to help pay for college? Start the process by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). The FAFSA will be available this October 1 for students who plan to attend college between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.
The FAFSA asks for information such as your name and Social Security number, as well as information about your financial situation. After you fill out the FAFSA, watch for offers of financial aid from colleges you’ve applied to and have listed on the FAFSA. Make sure you compare the aid offers to see which school offers the best combination of net cost and “fit” for your academic needs. Once you’re enrolled in college, your school’s financial aid office will pay out the financial aid funds.
Get ready for the FAFSA by creating an FSA ID, a username and password combination that you’ll use to sign the FAFSA and access certain websites related to your federal student aid.
Visit StudentAid.gov/fafsa to find out how to fill out the FAFSA and create your FSA ID, what information is needed for the FAFSA, what the deadlines are, and what happens after the FAFSA.