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College Talk Blog

FAFSA

October is the New January

Parents of rising high school juniors-forget everything you were told before this year about when to file financial aid applications. The class of 2021 will be able to file their FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid in October instead of January. The same schedule will be true for current college students. The new schedule was made possible by the decision to allow applicants to use Prior Prior Year tax returns to file applications instead of waiting until applications are filed for the next year.

FAFSA Follow Up

Don't forget to update your FAFSA if you filed with estimated income information to meet priority financial aid deadlines. 

Correcting the FAFSA is not difficult. Simply log in to the FAFSA, indicate that you want to make a correction and change your tax filing status for parents and student (if the student filed taxes) from not having filed yet to having filed. Then update the Adjusted Gross Income, earned income and taxes paid. Additionally, check the list of colleges on the FAFSA to insure that the colleges listed are the colleges where the student has actually applied.

Avoid Financial Aid Penalties

Every college has a priority financial aid date or deadline for students who want the best financial aid need and merit awards for which they qualify. Some have actual penalties for late filers. The benefits of filing early and on time are the biggest awards for which students qualify.

Families fail to file timely financial aid forms for a variety of reasons to include not knowing what, how or when to file an application and not having completed tax returns. Adding to the confusion is the fact that each college can have a different deadline and request that students and parents follow a slightly different process.

Huge breakthrough for FAFSA filers in 2017

Families filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA in 2016 will need to initially file the FAFSA using their 2014 federal tax return and then make corrections as soon as they have filed their 2015 federal tax return.

Families will be allowed to use the prior year tax return without correcting anything beginning with the January of 2017 FAFSA. January 2017 FAFSA filers will get to use their 2015 federal tax return data without making any corrections from their 2016 federal return.

After the FAFSA, I'm done right?

To meet college deadlines, many parents complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before new tax returns can be filed. They often use their prior year tax return to file an estimated FAFSA. Then they go back into the FAFSA after filing taxes to correct AGI and a few other numbers. Families who file an estimated FAFSA will likely get two Student Aid Reports (SAR). The Student Aid Report is the product produced by the FAFSA. Most families can expect to get one for the estimated FAFSA and a second when the corrections are made.