By Lauren Grimaldi
In past years, the primary date for college students to file their FAFSA for the upcoming school year was January 1st. However, there has since been a change to that policy.
On October 1, students were able to file their FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year using tax and income information from 2015.
Department of Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell spoke about this change at a conference in Washington D.C. in July.
“We are trying to provide more time for students, and trying to get financial aid awards back to students earlier,” Mitchell said, according to U.S. News.
However, there is still no guarantee from FAFSA themselves that students will receive their award information earlier than in years past.
“Some schools will make offers earlier, and others won’t. And keep in mind that an early offer might be an estimated offer, so read communications from schools carefully,” StudentAid.Gov said.
However, since FAFSA relies on income information, there are major changes to what year of income a student will present as well.
Because filling out a FAFSA application involves using specific numbers from tax documents, students are asked to use information from 2015 and does not require students to update information once they and their parents (if applicable) submit their taxes for 2016. This new policy, referred to as “prior prior”, will have students report their 2016 tax information for the 2018-2019 school year.
This new policy applies for all students and requires an extra step if an applicant’s financial situation changed vastly over the past year.
“You must report 2015 tax and income information, as the FAFSA requires. If your family’s financial situation has changed dramatically since then, you should complete the FAFSA questions as required, submit the FAFSA, then contact the school you plan to attend and discuss your situation with the financial aid office,” StudentAid.Gov said.