President Barack Obama was in Des Moines, Iowa, last week to discuss some changes to the federal student funding system. The president appeared with Arne Duncan, secretary of education, on his annual Back-to-School Bus Tour. He announced a few reforms that will be made to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Effective for the 2017–18 school year, students will now be able to file their FAFSA on Oct. 1, 2016, nearly three months earlier than usual. Under the old procedure, the filing window wouldn’t open until Jan. 1, 2017. The current system does not align with the normal college admissions cycle or individual state financial aid deadlines, some of which can be as early as March.
Another change is that the tax information on the form will be reported from two years prior, not the current one. For both the 2016–17 and 2017–18 applications, students will have to submit tax information from 2015.
Starting with the 2018–19 application, the tax information will be from one tax year earlier, which would be 2016. Under the current rules, students must submit tax information from the prior year, which is due April 15, after some state student aid deadlines.
The Department of Education is concerned that some students are not applying for aid due to the confusion surrounding the tax data and the lack of continuity with deadlines. More information about the FAFSA and federal student aid is available at www.studentaid.gov.