Are you planning to attend college between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, or do you know someone who is? The FAFSA is available earlier this year! The FAFSA online form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) went live on October 1st. Completing the FAFSA is necessary to apply for federal student aid, as well as other aid and scholarships.
Good news: you will use income data from 2015. No more waiting until you complete your taxes (or remembering to update tax data later) as we used to have to do. Take advantage of the Data Retrieval Tool and all your tax filing information will be automatically loaded from the tax forms you filed with the IRS.
You don't have to complete the FAFSA immediately when it's available; however, it's good to complete it as soon as you can to be sure that you receive full consideration for financial aid. Be sure to list any college that you're thinking of applying to, or that you currently attend.
Filing earlier means that you'll have information about your Expected Family Contributions earlier. You will have more time to make an informed decision about where to go to school -- how you will pay for it. This will make planning easier.
After you fill out the FAFSA, watch for financial aid offers from colleges you've applied to and have listed on the FAFSA. Make sure you compare the aid offers to see which school offers the best combination of net cost and "fit" for your academic needs. Once you're enrolled in college, your school's financial aid office will pay out the financial aid funds.
Visit StudentAid.gov/fafsa to find out:
- how to fill out the FAFSA and create your FSA ID,
- what information is needed for the FAFSA,
- what the deadlines are, and
- what happens after the FAFSA.