Changes in the FAFSA
You may not have decided on a college, but if you plan to start in the fall of 2017, it’s time to fill out the FAFSA. Every U.S. college student has to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for federal grants and loans, state and school scholarships, and college work-study jobs.
New this year
- You can now submit the FAFSA as early as October 1. It’s best to get the form in early since many awards are first-come, first-served. You can list a college on your FAFSA even if you haven’t applied there yet.
- The FAFSA asks for information from your federal tax return. In the past, you needed to file your taxes before you filed your FAFSA. Now, you can complete the FAFSA with tax answers from the previous year. Referred to as “prior-prior year,” the new policy will make it easier to answer the questions. Use your 2015 returns to answer FAFSA questions now, and you won’t have to update the form next spring when you file your 2016 taxes.
Go to fafsa.ed.gov to start the form. Remember, it’s free to apply. Don’t be duped into paying for help to fill out the form. Take your time, and gather the documents you need before you begin. You’ll need the following information for you and your parents:
- Social Security numbers
- Driver’s licenses
- Federal tax returns (for the prior year)
- Current bank and investment statements.
If this is the first time you’ve filled out the FAFSA, you’ll also need to apply for a federal student aid ID (FSA ID) to sign your FAFSA, and it can take up to three days after registering for it before you can use it. Be sure to read the About section of the FAFSA website.
Every student should apply every school year. There is no income cap for federal aid, and age and ethnicity are not considered. And you won’t be eligible for federal financial aid if you don’t apply.
Of course, paying for college is much more than completing the FAFSA. After you receive your college’s financial aid letter and any scholarships you have applied for, a student loan from the credit union may help fill the gaps between your finances and the cost of college. With just one application, you could get funding for your entire undergraduate career.* Draw on the funds as you need them, up to $75,000. The loan is considered one loan when you get your degree, rather than a loan for each semester. Our low interest rates and no origination fees could save you hundreds. Apply online and get an instant answer!*
*Subject to credit qualification and annual credit review. Must meet school’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements.