If you have a student in college, you are familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. And you know the drill: enter tax information before you have received your tax documents, email your accountant multiple times about getting the return done as quickly as possible, enter the final tax return figures into the website. All so that you can find out how little the school will give you in financial aid.

Well this year there are two major changes:

  1. You can use your prior year return. This is huge. This means that your 2015 tax return, which was completed in 2016 contains the information for the FAFSA that you will complete in 2017. No more stress over getting your return done (for either of us).
  1. The form is available early. The FAFSA wasn’t available until after January 1 in prior years, because it required information from the recently completed year. Since it no longer requires that, they have made it available in October. The 2017-2018 FAFSA has been available since October 1, 2016!

You may have other questions:

My income went down this year. Do I have to use the tax return from the higher income year?

Is this change permanent?

If I filled out the form using my 2015 return last year, do I have to fill it out again this year with the same information?

Good questions. Contact me today so we can discuss in further detail.