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Don't be confused by the new FAFSA rules

Diane Cloeren

October 20, 2016

We've recently seen some confusion relating to the FAFSA application changes which took place earlier this month. The application now utilizes prior year income tax information allowing the filing deadlines to more effectively "match" the college school year. Applying for aid earlier also allows prospective college students to receive their aid offers prior to making enrollment decisions.

FAFSA filing for the 2017-2018 school year opened on October 1, 2016. Although the filing will remain open into 2017, many colleges and universities impose their own deadlines which may be earlier.

You should not delay your application with the hopes of utilizing 2016 tax information.

You must report the information the FAFSA asks for. If your family’s income has changed substantially since the 2015 tax year, contact the financial aid office at your college about your family’s situation.

Note: The FAFSA asks for parent marital status as of the day you fill it out. So, if your parents are married now but weren’t in 2015 (and, therefore, didn’t file taxes as married), they’ll need to add their new spouse’s income to your FAFSA. Similarly, if they filed their 2015 taxes as married but they’re no longer married when you fill out the FAFSA, they’ll need to subtract their spouse’s income.

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