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October 04, 2016

Changes to the FAFSA allow students to apply earlier for financial aid
Filing a FAFSA is the first step for many grants, scholarships and loans

Students planning to attend college next year can begin filing the FAFSA this week – three months earlier than in previous years.

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA, is the first step students must take to qualify for most federal and state financial aid as well as grants and scholarships offered by many colleges and universities.

Starting with the 2017-18 FAFSA, students can file the financial aid application as early as Oct. 1.

The new FAFSA start date is better aligned with many college and state financial aid deadlines, potentially helping more students qualify for funds to help pay for higher education.

“Knowing how much financial aid is available can help students weigh all their options and make more informed decisions about college,” said Zora Mulligan, Missouri commissioner of higher education. “Students and their families should be sure to file the FAFSA as early as possible.”

Also beginning this year, students will report earlier income information on the FAFSA. The 2017-18 FAFSA will collect income information from 2015. That means families will no longer have wait until they file their taxes for the current year in order to complete the FAFSA or use estimated tax information that they later have to update.

The change in tax year information also will allow many families to use the IRS data retrieval tool, which electronically imports information from their federal tax forms to the FAFSA, making it easier to complete the application.

For more information about the changes to the FAFSA, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/2017-18-fafsa-updates-students-parents.pdf.