January 1st is not just New Year's Day. It was FAFSA Day. Why it was never on the calendar? Beats me. But the holiday has been moved, courtesy of President Obama. Now, October 1st is the golden day to find out how much debt you will likely be in for many years after your four years of freedom are over. Bittersweet.
This is very important to know because if you head to FAFSA.ed.gov on January 1, 2017… you’re three months behind. And if you don't know, when it comes to applying for money, it’s critical to do it as soon as the application opens, so that you can get first dibs on the good stuff (grants and scholarships).
President Obama made the change to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process in September 2015. This date shift not only allows students to submit their application earlier, but it allows them to use earlier income information. Starting with the 2017-2018 FAFSA, you will report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017-2018 FAFSA application, report your 2015 income information instead of 2016’s information.
By applying for financial aid earlier, you’re using more accurate tax info. Plus, you’ll know your financial aid package (the amount of money you will receive from Federal Aid) earlier. This is very beneficial for high school seniors weighing their college options by their financial resources. Note that if you’re a high school senior applying for FAFSA, your parents will be using information from your sophomore year of high school.
The deadline to submit your FAFSA application will remain June 30th. So for the 2017-2018 school year, the FAFSA application period is from October 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017.
Happy FAFSA! May the odds be ever in your favor.