On September 14, 2015, the Department of Education announced major FAFSA changes for 2017-2108. The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process. Prospective college students and current college students are required to submit the FAFSA in order to qualify for federal financial aid. The FAFSA process is only for federal and state money. Some colleges have a secondary process where additional financial information will be required.
The FAFSA process requires the prospective student and their family to submit financial information on income and some assets. The FAFSA information generates a number called your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). It is recommended that every college bound student complete the FAFSA form each year.
The FAFSA change involves the date of the FAFSA submission and the tax year information associated with the FAFSA submission. The process today makes the FAFSA available on January 1 of each year. The current system uses the most recent tax year and often an estimate is required to submit a family’s income information. This is a significant change.
Families will have access and be able to submit the 2017-18 FAFSA anytime from October 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018. This basically means that if a student applies to a school in October the family can then also submit the FAFSA at that time instead of the old January 1st deadline.
A bigger change within this 2017-2018 FAFSA submission is how parents will report their tax income information. For the current FAFSA submission parents are required to provide information from the prior year. For example, 2016-2017 students would report the family’s 2015 income information. Starting in 2017-2018 families will be submitting “prior-prior” year income information. This means for the 2017-2018 year the income will be from 2015 instead of 2016.
It is unclear how the colleges will react to this change. In a time when data and information are available almost instantaneously the Department of Education is going the other way. Based on this change, college award letters will be based on financial information that is almost 2 years old. This may put additional pressure on the college financial aid offices in the future. It is possible that more colleges will add a secondary financial process like the CSS profile or their own.
To make it easier we have provided a chart for families to view the year of their child and the date the FAFSA should be submitted.
|School Age||Student Attending College (School Year)||FAFSA Submission||TAX Year Income Required|
|Senior High School||7/1/16-6/30/17||1/1/16-6/30/17||2015|
|Junior High School||7/1/17-6/30/18||10/1/16-6/30/18||2015|
|Sophomore High School||7/1/18-6/30/19||10/1/17- 6/30/19||2016|
|Freshmen High School||7/1/19-6/30/20||10/1/17-6/30/20||2017|
College Affordability LLC will keep our readers updated on this new FAFSA launch as new developments occur. The U.S. Department of Education also provides college information on both their Financial Aid Toolkit and the StudentAid.gov site.