With The New Government Changes, When Should I Submit My FAFSA?

With The New Government Changes, When Should I Submit My FAFSA?

With the recent government announcement of changes to FAFSA, are you confused when you should submit your forms and what tax information to use?

The fun starts for families with students enrolling in college sometime from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.  Families will be filling out and submitting financial aid forms earlier this year because the FAFSA will be available October 1, 2016. In addition, families will be able to use their tax information from 2015 to fill out and submit the FAFSA. With this change, the FAFSA is available earlier and when it becomes available, families can use their most recently completed tax return information (from 2 years prior). Families no longer have to scramble to get their previous year tax return completed and/or update information once a FAFSA has already been submitted.

Troy Onink, one of our favorite writers on financial aid reminds families, “This new method is referred to as prior, prior, because students’ college financial aid eligibility will now be based off of income from two years prior to when a student enrolls in college, not one year prior the way the rule has been until today. “

This means that parents, with current college freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, will be completing the financial aid form for the 2017 – 18 school year using 2015 income again. These families will have used 2015 income for TWO YEARS IN A ROW.  Current high school seniors will be impacted by using 2015 income for just one year when applying for aid.

The chart below (created by the government) details the new dates and tax year information to use:

When A Student Is Attending College (School Year) When a Student Can Submit a FAFSA Which Year’s Income Is Required
July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 January 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 2014
July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 January 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 2105
July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018 October 1, 2016 – June 30, 2018 2015
July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019 October 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019  2016




Debbie Schwartz is former financial services executive and founder of Road2College and the Paying For College 101 Facebook group. She's dedicated to providing families with trustworthy information about college admissions and paying for college. With data, tools and access to experts she's helping families become educated consumers of higher ed.