How will you decide what you can afford for your college education? The best way to figure that out is for EVERYONE to apply for financial aid – NO MATTER WHAT YOUR FINANCIAL STATUS. You can do so by using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which is your starting point.
Now there are changes to the FAFSA. Here is what you need to know to submit your financial aid application for the 2017 college academic year.
Before, you would apply January 1 of the year before you attend college and use your previous year’s tax returns to indicate yours and/or your parent(s)’ incomes. [For the fall of 2017, you would apply January 1, 2017, and give your income tax information for the year 2016.] This would all be done in order to calculate your expected family contribution (EFC) to determine the amount of your financial aid award.
For those who did not have their income taxes completed by January 1 (And, who would?), it meant either estimating your previous year’s income or applying late, after your tax forms were complete. Of course, most estimated because federal dollars are given out first come-first serve. But, that would mean sending in corrected information later. Either way, it meant getting your financial award package late, even to the point of missing school deadlines for deciding where to accept.
Now, you can apply for federal financial aid dollars with two prior year’s income taxes. [If you are applying for the fall of 2017, you can apply right away on January 1, 2017, using your 2015 income tax returns, which are already signed and sealed]. No delay applying, no need for correction updates! Oh, and Yes! You can now apply for financial aid for the fall of 2017 in October, 2016!
Everything is easier and much faster. [Get ready, 2016 seniors!]
Now you can determine how much college will cost you and/or your family out of pocket and begin to pick colleges you can afford to apply to and where to accept without a guessing game.
PS: If your prior, prior year’s income (2015) is higher than your prior year’s income (2016), still apply October, 2016, with your 2015 income tax information. Then make an appeal after you get your award based on your 2016 income tax.