FAFSA PicIn order to understand the changes forthcoming, let’s take a brief look into how the system works currently.  For many, this review may prove helpful since these changes have no impact on this year’s senior class (2016).  For the class of 2016, parents and students will begin the arduous task of completing the current FAFSA as soon after January 1, 2016 using financial data from their 2015 tax returns (prior-year).  The sooner it can be completed the better.  A logistical processing change will affect this group and future groups as it will be required by all to register and sign-in with a personal username and password — better known as a *FSA ID.  This will be required of both the registering parent and a separate FSA ID will be required for the student.

Current sophomores (2018) and juniors (2017) are facing some of the biggest changes ahead. They too will be required to create a new FSA ID, but that’s where the similarities end.  Beginning with the current juniors (2017), completing and submitting the FAFSA will be possible as early as October of their senior year.  This is huge!  The ramifications of this early filing means families will have a better understanding of their EFC (estimated family contribution) and financial aid awards can be determined before making final college choices are complete.

Further, and likely most significant, will be the year in which the FAFSA will be based.  Starting with the current juniors (2017), the tax year to be used in the calculations will be what is termed the prior-prior year.  What does this mean exactly?  For current juniors (2017), this means this year’s taxes (2015) will be used for this year’s juniors when it comes to completing the FAFSA in October of 2016.

**What if you have a current senior (2016) and a current junior (2017) in one household?

Under the recent changes, this family will be using the same tax return for both students.  For their senior (2016), they will file the FAFSA as early as possible (January-February) in 2016 and again in October of 2016 for their junior (2017).   YES! They will file twice in one year!!

*To learn more about creating your new FSA ID click here!

**To learn more about how these new changes impact your family, complete the following form and we’ll follow up with you promptly:

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