The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the government form required to apply for financial aid at any U.S. college or university, will be released on October 1, 2016. The October date is a full three months earlier than previous years, when the FAFSA was released on January 1.
What the earlier release date means:
- Families will use 2015 Federal Tax returns to complete the FAFSA for the 2017-18 school year.
- The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will allow families to connect their FAFSA application to their already filed 2015 Federal Tax Returns, autofilling some data points, speeding up completion of the form and reducing potential for typos.
- Current college students who filed a FAFSA between January 1 – June 30, 2016 for the 2016-17 school year, will need to complete an additional FAFSA during the 2016 calendar year for the upcoming 2017-18 school year.
- Some college and university financial aid offices are moving priority FAFSA filing dates forward to January 2017. Be sure to check the financial aid websites for specific dates.
In addition, families may receive financial aid award letters sooner than in previous college admissions cycles, especially for those students applying in the early admissions rounds, which can assist in choosing a college.