By Jen Hildebrand

There have been some significant changes to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for the 2017-2018 school year.  You can now start filing your FAFSA as of October 1, 2016, which is several months earlier than in past years when you had to wait until January 1st of the year the student was starting college.  This better aligns with the college application process and gives students and parents more time to apply for financial assistance.  For the 2017-2018 school year, students are required to report income from 2015, rather than the prior year as has been done in the past.  This is a lot easier for students and parents as they will not have to estimate their tax information or rush to complete their tax return.  The old system was very difficult for people who filed an extension on their tax returns.

If you are a student or the parent of a student attending a university in the fall of 2017, we recommend that you file your FAFSA form as soon as possible each year.  Why?  Even if you do not think that you or your student will qualify for financial aid, the FAFSA form determines financial aid and is often used in determining scholarship dollars as well.  In addition, several states operate in a “first come, first serve” manner.  Barring an October 15th tax extension, the new rules should make it easier than ever to submit the FAFSA form early.

  1. You can find the online application at
  2. So far, the federal funding deadlines for submitting your FAFSA have not changed.
  3. Some colleges and states have changed their FAFSA deadline from “as soon as possible after Jan. 1” to “as soon as possible after Oct. 1.”
  4. Click here to look up federal and state specific deadlines.
  5. Another helpful resource about what students and parents need to know about the 2017-18 FAFSA can be found here.

What this means:

  1. Parents and students should fill out their FAFSAs as soon as possible after October 1 each year.  This will ensure that they do not miss any important deadlines.  Another item to note is that several states operate in a first come, first served manner when handing out financial aid.  That is why it is important to get your FAFSA submitted as soon as you are able.
  2. This means that parents and students will not have to estimate their tax information as they have done in the past, barring people who are on an October 15 extension.

Still have questions?  Please reach out to us.  We are here to guide you through this process and can help evaluate the best way to fund college education.  You can schedule a meeting by clicking below, contact Jen Hildebrand –, or call (913) 345-1881.

Photo credit: COD Newsroom / / CC BY