There are two major changes that were just made to the Free Application for iStock_000000834929_SmallFederal Student Aid or FAFSA. The changes in the FAFSA means students will be able to apply for aid earlier and more easily. The changes will help students make better informed decisions about where to apply and how to pay for college. However these changes will not take place until the fall of 2016 for students filing a 2017-18 FAFSA.

Tip #1 Submit the FAFSA Earlier

In past years, the FAFSA had to be submitted by January 1st of the year you will be attending college. But now the FAFSA can be submitted earlier. Students will be able to file a 2017-18 FAFSA as early as October 1st 2016 rather than the beginning of January 1st 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change enabling students to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1st every year. There’s no change to the 2016-17 schedule.

Tip #2 Use Earlier Income Information

Typically the FAFSA becomes available on January 1st. A family would have to complete the form with income estimates based on the last year’s earnings, and then have to change the information once they receive their taxes. This change will fix that however beginning with the 2017-18 FAFSA students will report income information from an earlier tax year. For example on the 2017-18 FAFSA, students and parents as appropriate, will report their 2015 income information rather than their 2016 income information estimate. The change will make filling out the FAFSA a lot easier. Families will not have to go back and change information and update it from past years.


These are  2 top tips to help you understand the FAFSA changes.


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