changes to FAFSA

The FAFSA is now available on October 1st.

The FAFSA is now available on October 1st. So it’s college application and financial aid season! (But it’s also College Changes Everything® Month—so help is on the way!)

Big changes are happening this year with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)—the form that determines a student’s eligibility for most federal, state, and college financial aid programs. Here’s some information on the changes, what they might mean for you, and how you can find free assistance if you need help in completing your FAFSA.

In previous years, students couldn’t complete the FAFSA for the following school year until after January 1st. But beginning with the 2017-18 FAFSA, there are two big changes:

  1. Students will be able to file a 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. This is a permanent change, enabling students to submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year. (Students and parents need to keep in mind that while the FAFSA is available earlier, they will still need to submit an application each year.)
  2. Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, tax information from an earlier year will be collected. That means you can use your 2015 tax information to complete the 2017-18 FAFSA. This is really helpful for students, since they no longer need to estimate their tax information on the FAFSA and then update it later. It also means students might be able to use the electronic IRS Data Retrieval tool to automatically fill in the FAFSA with their tax information. That can save a lot of time and hassle!

Because some financial aid programs, including the state’s Monetary Award Program (MAP), have limited funding that is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, you should file your FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st to have the best chance of getting aid. Ask your college about any school-specific deadlines.

How to manage college and financial aid applications all at once? That’s what College Changes Everything® Month is all about! During CCE Month (and throughout the fall), ISAC will partner with schools and communities to provide hands-on assistance to students at free college application and FAFSA completion workshops available throughout the state. You can actually fill out a college application or a FAFSA at these events, with someone right there with you to help guide you through the process and answer questions.

Here’s where to find FREE assistance:

  • Find events and workshops in your area: org/calendar
  • Contact your local ISACorps representative for one-on-one help: org/isacorps
  • Get answers to financial aid and college planning questions sent directly to your phone by signing up for the ISAC College Q&A text messaging service: org/collegeqa
  • Call the ISAC Call Center for assistance at 1-800-899-ISAC (4722)

High schools and counselors who would like to participate in College Changes Everything Month can find information and a downloadable toolkit at collegechangeseverything.org/ccemonth.

Complete your applications and FAFSA now and you could be breathing a big sigh of relief by Thanksgiving!

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