Federal Changes Allow Earlier FAFSA Submission

Due to significant changes made recently to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process, college students can now apply for financial aid earlier than ever before. Starting with the 2017-18 application cycle, the following changes will be put in place:


Change #1: You'll be able to submit your FAFSA earlier than in the past.

  • You can file your 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than having to wait until Jan. 1, 2017.
  • The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling you to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as Oct. 1 every year.
  • The earlier you file your FAFSA, the sooner you’ll know how much your family is expected to contribute, which will help with budgeting for the upcoming school year. 

Change #2: You’ll use earlier income and tax information.

  • Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, you will report income and tax information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, you—and your parent(s), as appropriate—will report your 2015 income and tax information, rather than your 2016 income and tax information.
  • This change will make the FAFSA easier because you’ll already have done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, and you may be able to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA. 

How These Changes Benefit You

  • Because the FAFSA will ask for older income and tax information, you will already have done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, and you won’t need to estimate your tax information and then go back into the FAFSA later to update it.
  • Because you’ll already have done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA. 
  • Because the FAFSA is available earlier, you may feel less pressure due to having more time to explore and understand your financial aid options and apply for aid before your state’s and school’s deadlines.