Journey to College
Changes to the FAFSA
Oct. 4, 2016
There are a few changes to the FAFSA this year, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. There’s no need to panic.
Who needs to file?
One thing that hasn’t changed is who should file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you are going to be a college student in Fall 2017 and/or Spring 2018, you should complete a FAFSA. That includes high school seniors, current college students who plan to enroll next year, and anyone else planning to enroll next year, whether you are a traditional or non-traditional student.
When should you file?
One of the changes you may have heard about is the new FAFSA filing date. The FAFSA used to be available starting Jan. 1 for the following academic year. Now it’s available earlier to help students and their families better prepare financially for college. This year, you can file your FAFSA beginning Oct. 1. The earlier you file the better. The information collected from your FAFSA will help determine your eligibility for federal, state and institutional financial aid, including grants, loans and some scholarships. When you fill out your FAFSA this fall, be sure you’re filing the 2017-18 form.
When is the filing deadline?
Every school has its own filing deadline, so be sure to check with your college for that information. The state also has a filing deadline for students to be eligible for the Access Missouri Grant – a needs-based grant awarded to nearly 50,000 Missouri students annually. Eligible students need to file by Feb. 1 to be guaranteed a grant award. Eligible students filing between Feb. 1 and April 1, 2017 will be awarded a grant based on funding availability. So again, file your FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1.
What about tax information?
Another change to this year’s FAFSA is the tax information you need to submit. In order for students to file earlier, this year’s FAFSA will ask for your 2015 tax information. That means no more waiting for mom and dad to file their taxes before you can fill out the FAFSA! You also may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically enter some of your tax information.
If you need help completing your FAFSA, check out one of the many FAFSA Frenzy events scheduled throughout Missouri. Financial aid professionals will be on hand to provide free assistance. Find a public event near you at dhe.mo.gov/ppc/ffsites.php. In addition, dozens of high schools will host private FAFSA Frenzy Events during the school day. If your school is participating, be sure to take advantage of the free help.