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 Data 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
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.
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
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.