Early FAFSA

Now you can file your 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling you to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year.

This may make it a little confusing about which FAFSA you should fill out. This chart should help. 

IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND COLLEGE FROM

YOU WILL SUBMIT THIS FAFSA

YOU CAN SUBMIT THE FAFSA FROM

USING INCOME AND TAX INFORMATION FROM

July 1, 2015- June 30, 2016 2015-16

Jan. 1, 2015-June 30, 2016

2014
July 1, 2016- June 30, 2017 2016-17 Jan. 1, 2016-June 30, 2017 2015
July 1, 2017- June 30, 2018 2017-18 Oct. 1, 2016-June 30, 2018 2015
July 1, 2018- June 30, 2019 2018-19 Oct. 1, 2017-June 30, 2019 2016

 

You’ll be required to report income and tax info from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, you—and your parent(s), as appropriate—will report your 2015 income and tax info, rather than your 2016 income and tax info.

From now on, the FAFSA will ask for older income and tax information that you will already have. This change means you won’t have to use estimates anymore, or log in later to update your FAFSA after you file taxes.

Because you’ll already have done your 2015 taxes by the time you fill out your 2017–18 FAFSA, you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA.

Having the FAFSA available three months earlier will give you more time to meet most deadlines to submit requested information. HOWEVER, this does not mean that HCC will award your financial aid package early. Awarding will not begin to take place until Spring 2017. 

For information to apply for Financial Aid click here.

Here's a summary of key dates for submitting the FAFSA depending on when you plan to go to school. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will FAFSA applicants have an option to use tax year 2016 income and tax information?

No. Beginning with the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students and parents will be required to use income and tax information from the 2015 tax year. However, a financial aid administrator (FAA) may use professional judgment to change any of the income or tax items by using the 2015 (or any other recent 12 month period) income and tax information, if the FAA determines that there are extenuating circumstances that justify the use of information other than the 2015 tax year information. The fact that the student might be eligible for more aid based upon the use of 2016 information is not, by itself, sufficient reason for an FAA to make a professional judgment decision to use 2016 income. [April 12, 2016]

Will the Pell Grant award and disbursement schedules be released earlier since the FAFSA will be available earlier?

Probably not. Development and release of the Pell Grant schedules are dependent on Congressional action which likely will not occur earlier than what has occurred over the past several years. [April 12, 2016]

Will institutional campus-based allocations be released earlier?

Probably not. Like the issuance of the Pell Grant schedules, release of campus-based allocations are contingent on Congressional action. [April 12, 2016]

Since the 2017-2018 FAFSA will use information from 2015, will the 2017-2018 expected family contribution (EFC) calculation use the same need analysis tables that are used for the 2016-2017 EFC calculations?

No. The 2017-2018 EFC calculation will use updated need analysis tables. [April 12, 2016]

Will the 2017-2018 EFC need analysis tables be available earlier?

Yes. The Department expects to publish in the Federal Register the 2017-2018 EFC calculation tables by the end of May. [April 12, 2016]

To support those institutions that award earlier, will the Department’s Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) system be available earlier for submitting 2016-2017 originations?

No. COD functionality will not be available for 2017-2018 award originations until March 2017. [April 12, 2016]

Will the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS/DRT) be available when the FAFSA start-up begins on October 1, 2016? Similarly, will the IRS be ready to accept IRS tax return transcript requests on October 1, 2016?

Yes to both. The IRS DRT will be available when the 2017-2018 FAFSA processing begins on October 1. Additionally, we have been assured by the IRS that they will be prepared to respond to IRS tax return transcript requests on and after October 1, 2016. [April 12, 2016]

Will institutions have to review all of their students 2016-17 and 2017-2018 ISIRs to determine if there might be conflicting information because the two FAFSAs (2016-2017 and 2017-2018) are supposed to be completed using the same 2015 income and tax information?

No. To reduce burden on both institutions and FAFSA applicants, the Department has developed a process where the Central Processing System (CPS) will, when processing an applicant’s 2017-2018 FAFSA, perform an automatic review when there is also a 2016-2017 FAFSA on file for the applicant. This review will determine if there might be conflicting information between the two FAFSAs. The CPS will flag for institutional resolution only those 2017-2018 ISIRs where any potential conflict, once resolved, would have a significant impact on the student’s 2017-2018 EFC. A Dear Colleague Letter is being prepared for release later this spring that will provide additional information on this subject.

Also, as we stated in "Early FAFSA Electronic Announcement #2", posted to IFAP on February 18, 2016, the most effective ways to prevent conflicting information from occurring is for the FAFSA applicant to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) when completing both their 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 FAFSAs. [April 12, 2016]

Will the 2017-2018 FAFSA (either initial or renewal) be pre-populated with information from the applicant’s 2016-2017 FAFSA since the information should be the same?

No. There are too many instances where such pre-populating would result in incorrect information being included on the 2017-2018 FAFSA – e.g., changes in dependency status, changes in marital status, professional judgment. However, institutions are reminded that most 2017-2018 FAFSA filers who have filed an IRS income tax return will be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to import their 2015 income and tax information directly from the IRS into their 2017-2018 FAFSA. Using the IRS DRT is the fast and most accurate way to input income and tax information into the FAFSA. Use of the IRS DRT will dramatically reduce the likelihood that the applicant will be selected for verification. [April 12, 2016]

Will the implementation of the 2017-2018 Early FASFA cause multiple credit checks to be conducted for Direct PLUS Loan applicants?

The Early FAFSA implementation will not, by itself, cause multiple credit checks. However, actions taken by a school or PLUS Loan applicant may result in multiple credit checks, depending on the timing of those actions.

A Direct PLUS Loan credit check is valid for 180 days. This means that an applicant for whom a credit check was conducted will undergo another credit check if an action that triggers a credit check occurs more than 180 days after the date of the prior credit check.

A credit check is triggered if (1) a school submits a PLUS Loan award record to COD; (2) an applicant completes a Direct PLUS Loan Request on StudentLoans.gov; or (3) a school requests a credit check through COD.

An institution may want to modify its procedures to prevent multiple credit checks in connection with the Early FAFSA implementation. For example:

A school instructs its Direct PLUS Loan applicants to complete the Direct PLUS Loan Request as soon as the FAFSA is complete. A FAFSA is submitted in October 2017, and the applicant completes a Direct PLUS Loan Request at that time. This triggers a credit check. The school submits a Direct PLUS Loan award record in May 2018. This triggers a second credit check, because more than 180 days have elapsed since the prior credit check.

The school could eliminate the second credit check by changing its procedures to ensure that completion of the Direct PLUS Loan Request and submission of the PLUS award record occur no more than 180 days apart. [June 6, 2016]

Currently, if a student begins but does not complete a FAFSA, the partial application is saved for 45 days. Will the Department save 2017-2018 FAFSA data that has not been submitted to the Department by the student longer than the current 45-day limit?

No. The Department will not store FAFSA data that has not been submitted to the Department longer than the current 45-day limit. [June 6, 2016]