FAFSA® Form Deadline Changing for 2016-17

Posted on: Saturday, October 1st, 2016 by Scarlett Blevins

Maximize your 2017 - 2018 Financial Aid Award by filing your FAFSA as early as possible, beginning October 1, 2016
Changes in FAFSA® filing rules allow students applying to college for the 2017-2018 academic year to find out the amount of aid for which they qualify much sooner.

Changes to the FAFSA® Process for 2017–2018

  • Submit Your FAFSA® Earlier:

    Students will be able to submit a 2017–18 FAFSA® as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling students to complete and submit their FAFSA®s as early as October 1 every year. (There is NO CHANGE to the 2016–17 schedule. The 2016–17 FAFSA® became available Jan. 1, 2016.)

  • Use Earlier Income & Tax Information:

    Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA®, students will be required to report income and tax information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA®, students (and parents, as appropriate) will report their 2015 income and tax information, rather than their 2016 income and tax information.

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.

Summary of key dates for submitting the FAFSA depending on when you plan to go to school:

If you plan to attend college from:You will submit this FAFSA®:You can submit the FAFSA® from:Using Income & Tax Information from:
Source: student aid.ed.gov

July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016


January 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016


July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017


January 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017


July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018


October 1, 2016 – June 30, 2018


July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019


October 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019


If you’d like more details about the changes, you may read the fact sheet called College Students and Parents: What You Need to Know About the 2017­–18 FAFSA®.

What Does the new FAFSA® Filing Date Mean for Families?

The biggest change for families is that they should have less stress and more time to complete the FAFSA® and get it submitted to the colleges of their choice. In previous years, even though a family could technically file the FAFSA® as early as January 1st, this wasn't possible for most families because taxes need to be completed before filing. (They could file with estimated data, but would then need to update the FAFSA® with the final data after filing their taxes.) This left families rushing to file their taxes and then complete the FAFSA®. Families' choice was either to file with estimated data and need to make charges (potentially affecting any Financial Aid awards) or wait and rush to get the FAFSA done before the colleges' filing deadline. This added stress and uncertainty for families.

Troy Onink
Forbes Contributor

File Early for Maximum Aid Financial Aid Award

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.

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