NASFAA Urges Students to Prepare for Early FAFSA

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The 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid Will Be Available October 1

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To help students and parents better understand how the changes to the FAFSA can help them in the future, NASFAA has prepared a variety of resources to smooth the transition.

Students may still be adjusting to the new school year, but it’s already time to start planning and budgeting ahead. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, will be available to students and families in less than one week –– on October 1, a new change this year.

In previous years, the FAFSA was not available to fill out for the next academic year until January 1. But last fall, President Barack Obama took executive action to allow for the use of prior-prior year (PPY) income data on the FAFSA. That change laid the foundation for the earlier release date of the FAFSA, and has now opened the door for further simplification efforts within federal financial aid.

The earlier release date may allow students and parents to receive information about their potential financial aid packages sooner than in past years, which can arm them earlier with the details necessary to make better informed decisions about planning and paying for college.

“This year, the FAFSA is available for completion earlier than ever before, and students and parents should take advantage of the extra time to complete the form using their 2015 tax data,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “We’re hopeful that receiving information about student financial aid earlier will help families make better financial decisions and avoid unnecessary debt.”

To help students and parents better understand how the changes to the FAFSA can help them in the future, NASFAA has prepared a variety of resources to smooth the transition.

For example, rather than waiting until you and your parents have completed your tax returns this year – as has been the case in previous years – you can fill out the FAFSA with tax information from two years prior, as explained in this video. And the earlier FAFSA release date, combined with technology in the IRS Data Retrieval tool, makes the form even easier for students and parents to fill out.

Still, students might find themselves struggling to fill out the form, especially if they have never done so in the past. To help make the process as seamless as possible, NASFAA has compiled a list of FAFSA Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions page with information about the FAFSA, and financial aid in general.

Keep in mind that it’s never a mistake to fill out the FAFSA. The application is free, and serves as the gateway to federal financial aid as well as some state and institutional aid. Students and parents with questions can always reach out to their school’s financial aid office for assistance.

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email timmonse(at)nasfaa(dot)org or call (202) 785-6959.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit

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Erin Timmons
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