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FAFSA changes allow students to apply for financial aid earlier

Changes for the FAFSA could help students prepare for the upcoming academic year.

New changes for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) could help students better prepare for the upcoming academic year.

Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, released the FAFSA 90 days earlier this year than in the past, meaning students can apply for financial aid for the 2017-18 academic year now instead of the original date of January 2017. This is a permanent change that will allow students to begin filing the FAFSA starting on Oct. 1 each year.

In addition to submitting the FAFSA earlier, starting this year, students are required to use their (or their parents’, as appropriate) income information from an earlier year to complete the FAFSA. Tax information from 2015, which students used to file their 2016-17 FAFSA will also be used for the 2017-18 FAFSA. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will auto-fill 2015 tax information, which will speed up the application process, help students avoid mistakes and allow them to complete the FAFSA sooner.

The FAFSA is the primary form used to indicate a student’s need for financial aid, which includes grants, loans and the Federal Work-Study Program. Colleges and universities may also use the FAFSA to determine a student's eligibility for some scholarships. 

Although students have until June 30 each year to complete the FAFSA, Roseann Amato, director of student financial resources at Seminole State, suggests starting as early as possible. 

“The early start date is an effort to help Seminole State College provide award packages earlier to enable its students and their parents to better plan for the upcoming school year,” she says.

Seminole State awards more than $70 million in financial aid each year. Students who plan to apply for financial aid should start by completing the FAFSA. To learn more, visit the financial aid website, or contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

For more information about the 2017-18 FAFSA changes, visit the Federal Student Aid website. To start the 2017-18 FAFSA, go to fafsa.ed.gov.

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