FAFSA applications for the 2017-2018 academic school year are now open and can be filled out for possible financial aid.
The federal government made the decision to open up the 2017-2018 Free Application for Federal Student Aid earlier than in previous years because they now require information from 2015 tax returns instead of waiting for the students’ 2016 tax returns.
“We don’t have to wait for last year’s taxes to get filed because they are usually already filed from the previous year,” said student services specialist Jacob Crabtree. “It smoothens out the whole process; we don’t have to cram a whole lot of applications into a shorter time.”
Crabtree said a lot of applications have already been filled out and the financial aid employees have already started looking over the FAFSAs that have been turned in.
There are no guarantees that students will hear back quickly or receive their package shortly after they submit their application. However, the financial aid staff is able to get the results back to students who have filled out the FAFSA early in a timely manner.
Although students can use their filed taxes from the previous year, it is encouraged that they keep up with their present financial situations just in case there is a drastic change in the next year, said assistant director of the Depot, Carolina Witcher.
“With such a large gap between when they are filing their FAFSA and their taxes, there might be significant differences,” said Witcher. “We have an application students can fill out if that is the scenario, and they should also set up a meeting with their counselor.”
Graduate students are also eligible to fill out the FAFSA early, and financial aid pertains to them just as it does to undergraduates.
“Graduate students are able to do the FAFSA as well,” said Witcher. “Typically, it would only require their own tax information. It is not going to require the parents.”
The FAFSA website says that this is the earliest the application has ever opened and also notes that some states and schools have limited funds and students should fill it out as soon as possible.