What You Need to Know About the FAFSA

We hope to help you better understand the changes to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which were implemented to make the financial aid application process easier and faster for our students and families. 

What's changing?

Starting with the 2017–2018 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), these changes are now in effect:

  • You’ll be able to submit your FAFSA earlier.  The FAFSA is made available starting October 1,  rather than beginning on January 1. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling you to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year.

  • 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. On the 2018-19 FAFSA, you will report your 2016 income and tax information.

How will the changes benefit me?

  • 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.  This means you won’t need to estimate your tax information and then go back into the FAFSA later to update it.
  • Because you’ll 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.
  • Because the FAFSA is available earlier, you may feel less pressure due to having more time to explore and understand your financial aid options before your school’s deposit and billing deadlines.

Can I choose to report later income information if my family’s financial situation has changed?

You must report the information the FAFSA asks for. If your family’s income has changed substantially since the required tax year, please visit or call our financial aid counselors to discuss your family's situation.

Note: The FAFSA asks for marital status as of the day you fill it out. So if you’re married now but weren’t in the requested tax year (and therefore didn’t file taxes as married), you’ll need to add your spouse’s income to your FAFSA. Similarly, if you filed your taxes as married but you’re no longer married when you fill out the FAFSA, you’ll need to subtract your spouse’s income.

(For 2016-17 FAFSA filers) Since the 2017–18 FAFSA asks for the same tax and income information as the 2016–17 FAFSA, will my 2016–17 FAFSA information automatically be carried over into my 2017–18 renewal FAFSA?

No. Too much could have changed since you filed your last FAFSA, and there’s no way to predict what might be different, so you’ll need to enter the information again. Keep in mind that many people are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to automatically import their tax information into the FAFSA.

Where can I get more information and help with the FAFSA?