What’s with the New FAFSA timeline?fafsa

College bound students and families can now gain valuable financial aid eligibility information earlier in the college admissions process. New for the 2017-2018 academic year, all students now have a chance to complete the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA) as of October 1, 2016.

So What’s with the Change?

To start, the new date will now allow students and families to obtain information regarding eligibility for tuition assistance earlier in the process. Information pertaining to the eligibility for need based financial aid from federal, state, colleges and some private philanthropic organization. Information that is a critical part of the decision making process in selecting the college that is an academic fit, but also affordable for a student and family.

Second, and equally important, no one needs to wait to complete their Federal tax returns to file the FAFSA. Starting with the new date, October 1, tax return information will come from returns already completed and filed with the IRS.  Historically, one would need to file the FAFSA with “estimated” tax information and/or wait until the completed return was submitted. The historic process caused delays and prevent students and families from learning critical financial information essential from making a college selection.

What’s the Big Deal?

Earlier Information – More time to evaluate options!

All critical to making a final selection that is not only an academic fit, but a college selection that is affordable. Students and parents will now look to learn about need based tuition assistance, file appeals and communicate with college admissions and financial aid administrators, especially with schools that make the final cut. What will one learn earlier?

An understanding as to the Expected Family Contribution; the amount calculated by after submitting the FAFSA; the amount a student/family is responsible for paying.

Financial Aid Award Letters; the offer letter issued by each college/university a student is interested in attending. The Award Letter details the overall cost of attendance, institution merit scholarships, need based grants, loans and work study aid from an institution, federal and state agencies, and the net tuition cost due from the student.

Opportunities to file an Appeals, including those tied to a families extenuating financial circumstances.

More time to evaluate college admissions and financial aid offers. More time to make a choice.

What is Needed to Get Started

So, if you are a high school senior, a transfer student, someone thinking of returning after a break and/or already enrolled, the doors are open, you’re FAFSA can now be filed!!!

Information required from a student (dependent/independent) and parents (dependent students)

Step One             Obtain a NEW Federal Student Aid ID FSA ID

Critical for ALL students (and parents of dependent students), new and currently enrolled

Step Two             Information Need  

  • Social security number, driver’s license, non US Citizen identification number
  • Most recent federal income tax return; 2015 return is to be used for the 2017-2018 academic year (known as the Prior-Prior Year – FAFSA Tax Year Timeline Chart)
    • Note: By using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, information contained in a valid IRS tax return can be electronically transferred to the FASFA Form
    • Beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year, a student/parent will be using Prior Year data.
  • Records on ALL nontaxable income
  • Current banking and investment account information
  • Records that support unusual financial hardship including medical/dental expenses, dependent, elder care costs, salary reductions, unemployment and educational expenses for private K-12 tuition.
  • Federal School Code for each interested school.

 Step Three – Complete the FAFSA Online

Find a quiet location; 45-60 minutes, click the FAFSA Online site and before you know it, you’re done!