2017–18 FAFSA Changes

On September 14, 2015, President Obama announced two significant changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process that take effect next year.

Traditionally, the FAFSA filing cycle begins on January 1 of each year prior to the academic year a student is planning on attending college. For example, the FAFSA was available January 1, 2016 for the 2016–17 academic year. Effective for the 2017–18 academic year, the FAFSA will become available to students and their families on October 1, 2016. This change allows students and their families three additional months for filing their FAFSA and getting financially prepared to cover the cost of their education.

The second change is also effective with the 2017–18 academic year. Income information will be provided for calendar years one year earlier than has been required in previous years. This means that for the 2017–18 FAFSA, students and families will provide information from the 2015 tax year rather than from 2016. This change allows most families to electronically transfer their tax return information directly into their FAFSA by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. 

These FAFSA changes benefit students in three (3) ways:

  1. The financial aid application process will be better aligned with the college application process.
  2. There will be additional time (three months) for a student to complete the federal financial aid application and explore the various financial aid options. 
  3. Students and their families will not need to estimate their income. The 2015 tax filing deadline is April 15, 2016. The 2017–18 FAFSA application period opens October 1, 2016. By October, most families are likely to have completed their taxes and will be able to utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows tax filers to transfer their tax return information directly into their FAFSA. Use of this retrieval tool will improve the accuracy of a student’s out-of-pocket educational expenses and financial need.

For additional information and references, please see the following links: 

Any questions on the FAFSA Changes for 2017–18 may be directed to Jennifer Ott (530-898-4211) in the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office.