This year, students will find that they can access the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, much earlier than previous years. The 2017-18 FAFSA application has been open since Oct.1 rather than starting on Jan. 1 of every year. In addition, students will be required to report income information from the previous year. For the 2017-18 application, students must report their 2015 income information.
By opening the application a few months earlier, the U.S. Department of Education hopes students won’t need to guess individual or parents’ tax information. “Because the FAFSA will ask for older income and tax information, you will already have done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, and you won’t need to estimate your tax information and then go back into the FAFSA later to update it,” according to the FAFSA website.
In addition, since the new FAFSA will require information from the earlier tax year, most students and their parents will be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to import tax information. An earlier FAFSA opening also provides students a larger timeframe to apply for other sources of aid before their school’s deadline.
Although students will be filing the FAFSA earlier, it will not necessarily guarantee that they will receive their aid offers earlier. “Some schools will make offers earlier while others won’t,” explained the website, “You should be aware that the maximum Federal Pell Grant for 2017-18 won’t be known until early 2017, so keep in mind that even if you do receive an aid offer early, it could change due to various factors.”
In addition, the DOE expects that most state and school deadlines will stay stay the same as in 2016-17. For some schools that offer first come, first serve aid, they will plan on changing their deadlines to “as soon as possible after October 1,” according to the FAFSA website. Students should be vigilant in checking the deadlines for their financial aid.
The 2017-18 FAFSA priority filing date for University of Washington is January 15, 2017. Seattle University set their priority deadline to Feb. 1. For students applying to Washington State University, their FAFSA deadline is Jan. 31. Eastern Washington University also expects students to file their financial aid by February 1, 2017 instead of Feb. 15.
BC has quarterly filing deadlines for 2017-18. The deadlines for summer 2017 is Apr. 14, fall 2017 is Jun. 30, winter 2018 is Nov. 10 and spring 2018 is Feb. 16, 2017.