The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is one of the most important parts of applying for college.
And this year, the federal government has made some changes to how FAFSA works.
One change is the beginning of the new filing period: You can apply beginning October 1st of every year, whereas before the filing period began on January 1st.
“Filling out the FAFSA as soon as possible increases your chances of receiving aid,” says Bonnie Sutton, the President and CEO of ACCESS College Foundation. “While the priority filing deadlines aren’t until after January 1, 2017, if your school is awarding financial aid or admission on a rolling basis, you are advantaged by having your information in early.”
Also beginning this year, students will be required to report income and tax information from an earlier tax year.
For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, students will report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 information. Since 2015 taxes are already completed, students and parents won’t need to estimate tax information and then go back into the FAFSA later to update it.