Every January, many students start the new year by vowing to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (commonly called the FAFSA). To keep those students on task, educators often launch campaigns reminding students not to procrastinate on filling out the FAFSA forms.
But this year, students can start even earlier – and smart students will. Why? Because the FAFSA opens up on October 1, 2016. And because some financial aid is given on a first-come, first-served basis. That means filers who submit on October 1 could get more money – and that’s never a bad thing.
The second big change for this year is from what was called “Prior-Year” to “Prior-Prior Year,” or PPY income reporting. This means students and parents can report their 2015 income information rather than their 2016 income information on their 2017-18 FAFSA. This will make it much easier since their 2015 income will already have been reported on tax returns by April of 2016.
One major benefit of the change from January 1 to October 1 is the ability for most students to save time by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT). This will also ensure their FAFSA tax information is accurate — they won’t have to worry about making mistakes since the IRS DRT transfers their tax information.
One thing hasn’t changed though: students should still submit the FAFSA as soon after the starting date as possible. To complete the FAFSA students need a FSA ID, which is a username and password that enables them to log in to some Department of Education websites. Now’s a good time to make sure they’re set up with a FAFSA ID – more info can be found here.
To learn more about the changes to the FAFSA, register for one of our upcoming webinars.