Applying for college? Complete the FAFSA early

Posted by David Hershey on Oct 13, 2016 2:51:38 PM

New changes to the FAFSA this fall are making it easier for those applying for financial aid. You can file earlier without the rush to complete your taxes first. The FAFSA,  Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the online Federal application PCA&D and most colleges use to determine financial aid. It's also required for federal student loans.

This year, the FAFSA has moved things up a few months, from January to October. This gives families more time to plan and compare financial aid offers.



The 2017-2018 FAFSA now uses prior-prior year federal tax returns in its calculations. This means students filing the 2017-2018  FAFSA will use information from their and their parents' (if a dependant) 2015 Federal Income Taxes . Using the earlier year’s tax year makes it simpler for students and families to complete the FAFSA, because they won’t need to scramble to file their federal returns early.

When submitting the FAFSA for the 2017-18 year, students will be able to use their federal income tax returns for 2015.


Students may begin to file the 2017-2018 FAFSA was early as October 1, 2016. Filing annually is still required for financial aid, but filing earlier will allow more time to get your aid in place. Students applying and accepted to PCA&D will receive their financial aid information beginning in January.  PCA&D returning students' financial aid award letters will still be distributed starting in May, after academic progress is determined. 

In addition, most aid applicants and their parents will be able to use the FAFSA/IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to automatically transfer required tax return information directly from the IRS into their FAFSA. This increases the accuracy and streamlines the process.

These changes will reduce the number of steps involved for most student filers, shortening the time needed to complete the form, reducing errors and increasing accuracy.  

Four things to remember:

  • You will need to file the FAFSA every year.
  • Students, parents, and borrowers are required to use an FSA ID, made up of a username and password, to access certain U.S. Department of Education websites, incuding  the FAFSA. Apply for your FSA ID here.
  • When submitting the FAFSA for the 2017-18 year, use 2015 Federal tax records. You will report asset and household information as of the day you file your FAFSA
  • Use the FAFSA/IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to automatically transfer required tax return information directly from the IRS into your FAFSA.
  • File the FAFSA early. You can get this task done beginning October 1.

If you have any questions, please ask. I can be reached at 717-396-7833 X 1013 or

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Topics: FAFSA, financial aid, Prior prior year

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