The first step in applying for financial aid is always to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at fafsa.ed.gov. Thanks to some major changes you can complete the 2017-18 FAFSA as early as October 1—three months earlier than before. You might be thinking, ‘that’s great, but there’s no way anyone has taxes filed yet so no one could possibly do the FAFSA that early’. Not so.
In addition to the early FAFSA open date, you will be asked to report income & tax information from two years ago. So for the 2017-18 FAFSA, you will use 2015 tax information. This means you don’t need to wait around until taxes are filed or use estimates on the FAFSA. You can complete the FAFSA right away when it opens!
These changes are new to us too, so stay in touch with the financial aid office by visiting our website. We’ve posted important milestone dates and will continue to update our website to keep you informed!
It’s super important to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Why? Certain types of financial aid like grants and work-study are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s in your best interest to complete the FAFSA right away so you’ll be considered for the maximum amount of financial aid possible. Our office will also send you an estimate of your aid, giving you more time to plan your finances for the year ahead.
As a financial aid counselor, I hear lots of questions about the FAFSA. Here are some tips for students and parents that I’ve found most helpful:
Most students qualify for some kind of aid. And yes, loans count as financial aid. Completing the FAFSA won’t cost you anything (it’s the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid after all!) so it doesn’t hurt to apply and see what you can get. If you think you won’t qualify for aid, there’s really only one way to find out.
Office of Financial Aid