Changes in FAFSA filing rules allow students applying to college for the 2017-2018 academic year to find out sooner the amount of aid for which they qualify.
Previously, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was not available until January 1st. In the past, student aid eligibility came late in the admissions process, long after students had selected colleges to which to apply.
The new plan allows students and their families to begin the online FAFSA in October of 2016—using 2015 tax information—giving them the opportunity to understand the true cost of attending college when the college application process is getting underway.
Students and their families are urged to fill out the FAFSA, available at FAFSA.ed.gov, which also is often used to determine state and institutional aid eligibility, as a soon as possible.
Retrieving data from the previous year's return directly from the IRS is intended to allow students to complete the FAFSA form without the added step of estimating their income and correcting it later.
Federal Student Aid provides $150 billion in grants, loans and other funds each year to more than 13 million college students. Make sure you get the maximum financial aid award by filling early. Smart timing, cash management and college application strategies can mean thousands of dollars in extra financial aid. Additional ways to get the most money out of your FAFSA application can be found on Time Magazine's FAFSA Cheat-Sheet.