FAFSA is the KEY!
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the key
that opens the door to financial aid. It serves as the application for most
of the financial aid from federal and state programs and from colleges and
universities. Even if you are not sure that you will need financial aid,
we recommend that you fill out a FAFSA
anyway -- it's free.
There are big changes to the FAFSA process for
students filing the FAFSA for the 2017-18 school year. For the first time,
students will be able to file the FAFSA as early as October 1, 2016, instead
of beginning on January 1, 2017. This is a permanent change allowing students
to complete and submit the FAFSA as early as October 1 each year.
second big change for this year is from what was called "Prior-Year" to "Prior-Prior
Year," or PPY income reporting. This means that students will be able to
report their 2015 income information rather than their 2016 income information
on their 2017-18 FAFSA. This will make it much easier for students to report
income information on the FAFSA since their 2015 income will already have
been reported on tax returns by April of 2016.
You should submit
the FAFSA as soon after the official starting date, which is now October 1,
as possible, making sure you meet any college or state deadlines. The quickest
and most accurate way to file the FAFSA
is online. In contrast to a paper copy, the online form displays only the
data entry fields you need to complete. You also receive directions as you
need them. The FAFSA site is also available in Spanish.
complete the FAFSA you will need an FSA ID, a username and password that enables you to log
in to some Department of Education websites.
One major benefit of the
change from January 1 to October 1 for FAFSA income reporting is the ability
for most students to be able to save time by using the IRS Date Retrieval
Tool (IRS DRT). This will also ensure your FAFSA tax information is accurate
-- you won't have to worry about making mistakes since the IRS DRT transfers
your tax information for you.
When you complete or update the FAFSA
online, if you are eligible to use the IRS DRT, you will be taken the IRS
website, where you can preview your tax information before agreeing to transfer
it to the FAFSA. You can read more about this process and find out when your
tax information will be available through the IRS DRT here.
If you prefer to fill out a paper copy of
the FAFSA, you can obtain one by calling the Federal Student Aid Information
Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.
The FAFSA may not be the only form required
to receive an award letter from a school. You must also complete the college
admissions process. Check with each of the colleges and universities you listed
on your FAFSA to determine their requirements.
If you filed your FAFSA
electronically, you will receive an electronic Student Aid Report (SAR) within
a few days of submitting your completed FAFSA. (SAR results may take three
weeks if you filed a paper FAFSA.) The SAR is the result of your FAFSA. Read
it immediately and follow any directions. The schools you list on the FAFSA
will also receive results.