Those of you who have applied for financial aid through the Department of Education know how frustrating it can be. Well, the application process will be slightly easier starting with the 2017-2018 academic year. Previously, the figures the applicant would enter on the FAFSA form would be pulled from the tax return from the previous year. For example, for the 2016-2017 academic year, the earliest submission date for the form was January 2, 2016 and needed to include information for the 2015 tax year. How is that possible!??! Taxpayers had not received their tax forms by that date and Congress didn’t even finalize some of the tax codes for 2015 until December 18th. Parents would submit estimated income tax information and would need to update the information once their tax returns were completed.
Beginning with the 2017 – 2018 academic year, the applicant will use the figures from the tax return two years prior to the academic year for which you are applying. For example – for the 2017 – 2018 academic year, one would enter information from the 2015 tax return.
This change will also save time in completing the FAFSA form. The IRS offers a Data Retrieval Tool that will populate some of the fields on the form if your tax return was already submitted. The applicant can access this tool while filling out the FAFSA form online.
Another change to the process is the earliest submission date. Instead of the traditional January 1st due date, the form can be submitted as early as October 1st.