The sophomore year of high school has become much more important in college financial planning due to the October 1, FAFSA timing change called Early FAFSA or Prior Prior.  October 1, 2016 will be the first year of this change.  Prior to this, the FAFSA was available on January 1st of each year.  Due to this FAFSA change financial decisions made by the student or parents during this time period may affect their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and financial aid positioning.  This can be very surprising for many parents since college is almost three years away.

Most parents do not realize that the school year and tax year do not match up.  This is the reason why advanced planning is required.  January 1st of a high school’s sophomore year will now be the tax year used for the college freshman’s financial aid year.  This tax year will include the second semester of the sophomore year and the first semester of their junior year.

If a family has already started a college funding plan, congratulations! For those who have not yet started to plan, it is not too late.  College Funding is one of the most complicated financial processes parents will go through with their child.  It is also one of the most expensive.  Envision this college process as an investment in your child’s future and approach college like a business decision.  Having this outlook may help you to make your outcome more favorable.

Have your child develop good study habits and establish time management skills.  It can improve their college experience because it will lead to better grades.   Some parents feel by having a college saving plan they will penalized in the financial aid process.  This is not true.  As an example, let’s look at a family who files married and joint and has $100,000 of countable assets.   In this scenario the FAFSA EFC Calculation will amount to less than $5,000 in their EFC.  The cost of not saving and the increase debt are a bigger risk than not saving. If you have not started a college-funding plan, it is not too late.


The key points of the college planning for sophomore year video are:

  • Early FAFSA or Prior Prior Impact

  • Understanding your Expected Family Contribution

  • Student Academic Habits

  • Financial Aid Positioning best opportunity prior to 12/31

  • Creating a College Funding Plan

  • Standardized testing

This is a very complicated process.  Please use the other videos, free EFC calculator and other resources found on the EFC PLUS website. 


College Planning for Sophomore Year with Prior Prior