Ah, the FAFSA—that time-honored tradition of getting a crash course in your parents’ tax
information from two years ago. (But hey, it helps you keep college affordable, so it’s worth
poring over the details of IRS deductions and withholdings.)
We’ve written a lot about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), including filing tips for parents, six things you’ll need to finish the FAFSA, and a first-timer’s guide to filling it out.
However, in 2017, the Department of Education is making a few changes to how the FAFSA works that are important to note, especially for first-time filers.
You can now submit earlier
In the past, you had to wait until January 1 to file your FAFSA, but that’s no longer the case. If you’re filing for the 2017–18 school year, you can file now—submissions opened on October 1.
The new, earlier submission date is permanent, so you’ll be able to file your FAFSA beginning October 1 from here on out.
You will now be asked for income information from earlier years
If you filed your FAFSA for the 2016–17 school year, you would have been asked for income information from 2015 only. That’s changed, however. The new FAFSA will ask for income information for two previous years.
So, if you’re filing for 2017–18, you’ll need to provide income and tax information for 2016 and 2015.
The FAFSA website has a great chart to help breakdown this information. They also provide a fact sheet for parents and students about the 2017–18 changes.
If you’re filling out the FAFSA for the first time, be sure to download our FAFSA Checklist so you can be better prepared for what to expect.