What is FAFSA?
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the federal financial aid application and the primary financial aid form used by colleges. The FAFSA lets you apply for need-based grants/scholarships and federal loans.
Changes for 2017-2018
- You’ll be able to submit your FAFSA earlier. You can file your 2017-2018 FAFA as early as October 1, 2016, rather than beginning on January 1, 2017. The early 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 2017-2018 FAFSA, students (and parents, where applicable) will be required to report income and tax information from two years prior instead of one year prior. For example, on the 2017-2018 FAFS, you – and your parent(s), as appropriate – will report your 2015 income and tax information rather than the 2016 income and tax information.
Key FAFSA Filing Dates
When a Student Is Attending College (School Year)
When a Student Can Submit a FAFSA
Which Year’s Income and Tax Information Is Required
July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017
January 1, 2016-June 30, 2017
July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018
October 1, 2016-June 30, 2018
July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019
October 1, 2017-June 30, 2019
How will the changes benefit me?
- Because the FAFSA will ask for older income and tax information, you will have already completed your taxes by the time you complete your FAFSA. You won’t need to estimate your tax information and then go back into the FAFSA later to update it.
- You may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA. Learn more about the IRS DRT
- Using the IRS DRT may reduce the amount of paperwork we request from you.
- Because the FAFSA is available earlier, you have more time to explore and understand your financial aid options.
Note: You should be aware that the maximum Federal Pell grant for 2017-2018 won’t 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.
Since the 2017-2018 FAFSA uses the same tax and income information as the 2016-2017 FAFSA, will the 2017-2018 FAFSA be pre-populated with information from my 2016-2017 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. 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 family’s financial situation has changed since our 2015 taxes were filed?No. You must report the information the FAFSA requests. If your family’s income has changed substantially since the 2015 tax year, talk to your Financial Aid Counselor about 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 2015 (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 2015 taxes as married but you’re no longer married when you fill out the FAFSA, you’ll need to subtract your spouse’s income.
- If I used 2015 tax information last year and didn’t get any aid isn’t it pointless to fill out the FAFSA again?
Don’t assume that next year’s financial aid award will be the same. Factors used to calculate your aid could change each year. Things like your year in school, family income, and cost of attendance are just a few factors used to determine your aid. You never know what aid you may get if you don’t complete the FAFSA, so don’t let last year’s award deter you from potential aid you may receive this year. Even if you do not get the Federal Pell Grant last year, you could still be eligible for other types of aid this year. This includes work-study and low-interest loans. Also, some scholarships use information from the FAFSA as well.
- Why shouldn’t I wait to complete my 2017-2018 FAFSA?Some aid is first-come, first-served. And you don’t want to miss out! Also, some scholarships use information from the FAFSA and have early deadlines. So don’t disqualify yourself from those scholarships.
- Will Flagler College have to review my 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSA information to determine if there might be conflicting information between the two FAFSAs since both are supposed to be completed using 2015 income and tax information?Maybe. The U.S. Department of Education has stated they will perform an automatic review of both FAFSA applications on file with them. This review will determine if conflicting information exists between the two FAFSA applications. If conflicts exist, you may have additional requirements to complete or documentation to provide. In addition, Flagler College must review and correct any conflicting information they might find when reviewing your file.
- The most effective ways to prevent conflicting information is to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) when completing your 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 FAFSA applications.
- Where can I get more information about – and help with – the FAFSA?
Contact your Financial Aid Counselor with questions, or visit www.StudentAid.gov/fafsa. As you complete your FAFSA there are explanations available for each question. You can also chat online with a customer service representative (at certain times of day) as you complete your FAFSA or you can call 1-800-4FED-AID (TTY: 1-800-730-8913) for help.
Also, check out this quick and easy read: 8 Steps to Filling Out the FAFSA