What You Need to Know About the New FAFSA

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Prospective college students starting school in the fall of 2017 should be aware of two changes to the nationwide financial aid form.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is filled out by every U.S. college student seeking need-based financial aid, in the form of grants and scholarships, loans, and on-campus work-study opportunities.

Starting with the 2017-18 application cycle, the following changes will be in place:

  • Students will be able to submit their FAFSA as early as October 1, 2016. Previously, students could submit their form after January 1.
  • Students will use earlier income information. Previously, FAFSA eligibility was based on estimated family income for the calendar year preceding the academic year. Now, students will file based on income from two years prior, removing the need for guessing and adjustments down the line.


“The process will be simpler for entering students, who now won’t have to estimate income,” says Bentley Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Donna Kendall. “They can pull the information from already submitted tax returns. It’s also easier for schools in that they can award aid based on actual information, not an estimate that might change.”

Still, Kendall says, families should check with target schools to make sure their particular deadlines and application requirements are met.

“I always encourage students and families to look at deadlines and what each school requires,” says Kendall. “Every school is different.”

Kendall tells families to make a grid or spreadsheet of everything that each target school requires and the date it must be submitted, to help make staying on schedule easier.

Bentley will continue to send out financial aid awards once students have been admitted.

For more information on the new FAFSA requirements, visit studentaid.gov/sa/fafsa.

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