Changes to the FAFSA

By: Allie Negron | Thursday, September 22, 2016

With the 2016-2017 school year underway, many high school seniors have started the process of applying to college. A vitally important part of this process is applying for financial aid by completing and submitting the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. One thing to note about this year’s FAFSA is that it will be released early on October 1st. As a result of this early release date, certain aspects of the application will be affected. Below we outline some of these aspects:

  • Students will be able to complete the application three months earlier than previous years! The October 1st release date actually coincides with the CSS/PROFILE release date, which is an additional financial aid application required by some private institutions in order to determine eligibility for non-federal financial aid.  
  • This year’s FAFSA now requires students and their families to use Prior-Prior Year (PPY) taxes. This means that students graduating high school in 2017 and planning to attend college the following fall will use tax information from 2015. Students will NOT have to update their FAFSA with 2016 tax information.
  • To make students lives even simpler, there is an easy-to-use tool called the IRS-DRT, or IRS Data Retrieval Tool, that will directly import tax information into the FAFSA. With the change to PPY the hope is that many more students will be able to take advantage of the IRS-DRT this year.

While we have a general understanding of how this year’s changes will affect the financial aid process, this will be a “learning-year” for everyone involved, including colleges. This means it remains especially important for students to stay on top of financial aid deadlines, as some financial aid will continue to be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. It is to the benefit of each and every student to complete the FAFSA as close to the October 1st release date as possible.

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