Major changes are coming for the 2017-18 FAFSA. How will it affect you?
There are a few changes you need to know about this year, when it comes to filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA. The changes are ones parents and students will most likely welcome, in that they use well-established tax information and are designed to better align financial aid awards to the full application cycle.
Two Major Changes
- You will be able to submit your FAFSA earlier.
- The 2017-2018 FAFSA will open OCTOBER 1. This is a major change, in previous years the FAFSA would open in January.
- You will use earlier income and tax information.
- The 2017-2018 FAFSA will use 2015 tax information. Old methodology would require 2016 tax information for this FAFSA, using 2015 information is a major change.
Benefits of the Changes
- The FAFSA will ask for 2015 tax information, you will already have completed your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, and you will not need to estimate your tax information and then go back into the FAFSA later to update it.
- You will already have completed your 2015 taxes by the time you fill out the FAFSA, you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to automatically import your tax information to your FAFSA. More information about the IRS DRT may be found at www.studentaid.gov/irsdrt.
- The FAFSA is open earlier it will allow the Office of Financial Aid to process and send aid packages earlier.
- You may be required to submit less paperwork to the Office of Financial Aid.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since 2017-18 FAFSA asks for the same tax and income information as the 2016-17, will my old FAFSA info carry over to the new FAFSA?
No, too much could have changed since your last FAFSA, you will need to enter the information again or use the Data Retrieval Tool (recommended).
Can I choose to report 2016 information if my family’s financial situation has change since our 2015 taxes were filed?
You must report the information the FAFSA asks for. If your family’s income has changed substantially since the 2015 tax year, contact the Office of Financial Aid about the family’s situation.
The tax information needed for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid [FAFSA] has changed. What information must a student/student’s family use now?
For the first year ever, students will be using the “prior prior year’s” tax information. Students completing the FAFSA for 17/18 will be using their 2015 taxes.
Why was this change made?
By using earlier tax income data, more families will have completed their taxes by the time they are ready to apply for aid. This will make it easier for families to complete the FAFSA with accurate information, and will increase the likelihood that families will be able to transfer their tax information from the IRS directly into their FAFSA using the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). This makes it less likely that their college will have to ask for a ton of additional followup information from them.
What are the benefits of the change?
By having the FAFSA available earlier to families, they will be able to complete their financial aid applications in the same timeframe as their college admissions applications. Students and families will have more time to resolve any verification requirements or provide their college with any additional information needed to make a financial aid award. In addition, families who apply earlier should know earlier what their financial aid package will be and can plan accordingly.
Do all FAFSA applications now require ONLY prior prior year tax information?
Yes. Starting with the 2017/2018 FAFSA, which will use 2015 tax information, FAFSAs will only request “prior prior” tax information. As always, if a family finds that their situation has dramatically changed from that tax year, they should reach out to SU’s Financial Aid Office to find out what they can do to submit “professional judgment” information to us.
Applications for the FAFSA will open on Oct. 1, 2017 – what does this mean for current students?
We would love to see our current students begin applying for financial aid as early as possible. Returning students tend to think about applying for financial aid about the same time they think about returning to college–August. The financial aid process is a time-consuming process and can get quite tedious. Waiting until the very last second to complete the FAFSA can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress.
We would love to see families fill out the FAFSA starting in October–there should be no reason NOT to do that since in 99.9% of all cases, the families have already completed their 2015 tax information and will have everything they need to submit the form.
One of the benefits of using prior prior information is that financial aid awards can be made earlier. When could a newly accepted student learn about their aid package?
We, like most schools in the U.S., are still ironing out our timelines. However, we anticipate that our new students will see their financial aid packages by the end of 2016.</>
Where can I get more information about the FAFSA?
Studentaid.gov/FAFSA has a lot of good information and remember as you fill out your FAFSA you can refer to help text for every question or call the Office of Financial Aid.