Early FAFSA is coming for 2017-2018!
In September 2015, President Obama announced a change to the FAFSA affecting when students can apply for college financial aid and which tax year's information is provided. In the past, the FAFSA became available in January for an upcoming academic year. This change releases the FAFSA an additional 3 months earlier.
Beginning for the 2017-2018 academic year, the FAFSA will become available in October. Students and their families will complete the FAFSA using 2015 federal tax information. The use of 2015 taxes for the 2017-18 academic year is referred to as "Prior Prior Year".
Benefits for Students
- Tax information has already been filed with the IRS because the FAFSA is asking for older income
- You may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool earlier in the application process
- With 3 extra months, you may feel less pressure to rush to complete the FAFSA
- Students new to Simmons College may receive their financial aid awards earlier and have more time to decide where to attend
What This Means for Submitting the FAFSA
Many students will notice that 2015 federal tax information is being submitted two years in a row. That’s right! When applying for aid for 2017-18, students can apply early because tax information is already available. Even tax payers who filed a tax extension will now be able to file the FAFSA early. The chart below illustrates which tax year information will be submitted on the FAFSA for the academic year.
Recommended Filing Dates
We recommend filing the FAFSA by December 1st for the upcoming academic year. For example, we recommend filing FAFSA by December 1, 2016 for the fall semester of 2017-18.
This date has been selected to ensure that students have sufficient time to submit all necessary application items and allows time for Student Financial Services to review the application. This early date is particularly important for students who will enroll during the summer term for any given year.
All new students should be sure to complete and submit their FAFSA at the same time they submit their application for acceptance to the college, even if it is after December 1st.
Frequently Asked Questions
When can I begin to apply for financial aid for 2017-18?
The FAFSA for 2017-18 can be completed beginning October 1, 2016. This means that near the start of the fall term, you can begin to apply for aid for the upcoming year.
I haven’t filed taxes yet, can I still apply early?
Yes! Using prior prior year taxes means that almost all families will have filed taxes when the FAFSA becomes available.
If the FAFSA is available early, will I receive my financial aid award letter early?
Maybe. Students who are applying for admission to Simmons College can begin to receive their financial aid awards in December for the upcoming academic year if they have already been offered admission. Students who have been admitted and are returning for a subsequent year will continue to receive their award letters in the spring and summer months. This is because their academic progress must be reviewed by Student Financial Services before awards can be made.
What happens if I don’t file the FAFSA early when it becomes available?
Students are strongly encouraged to file the FAFSA early, but will not be required to file it in October. We recommend filing the FAFSA by December 1st or submitting it concurrently with an application for admission. However, we will certainly issue awards for students who file the FAFSA after December 1st as well.
Do I use 2015 tax information 2 years in a row?
YES! In order to make the change from prior year to prior prior year, 2015 tax information is being used 2 years in a row for filing the FAFSA.
What if I didn’t file taxes in 2015? Do I complete the FAFSA with 2016 tax information?
No. If you didn’t file taxes in 2015, you’ll complete the FAFSA with “non-filer” information for 2015 and submit a Non-Filer Statement. You can download this form here. If you received income in 2015 but did not file taxes, you’ll also be asked to submit a copy of your W-2 forms from 2015.
Can I choose which year’s tax information to provide on the FAFSA?
No. The Department of Education has determined which year’s tax information is provided for each academic year.
What if my family’s 2016 income is less than the 2015 income provided two years in a row?
Any time that a family’s financial situation has changed from the base year information provided on the FAFSA, you can submit an appeal. Our Appeal Worksheet is available for download here. We highly recommend speaking with your financial aid officer about the appeal prior to submitting it. Your aid officer can help you determine what documentation will need to be submitted.
If I provide 2015 tax information 2 years in a row, does that mean my financial aid award will be the same 2 years in a row?
That depends. In most cases, financial aid awards based on the same income information will be very similar from one year to the next. However, there are other factors that may cause your financial aid to be different in future years.
Since 2015 tax information is being used 2 years in a row, won’t my FAFSA be the same 2 years in a row?
No. There are other data elements that may have changed or need to be reported on a yearly basis. Please review this guide to which year's information should be used for each section of the FAFSA.
Where can I find additional information?
The U.S. Department of Education has some additional information available on their blog.