There are two exciting changes coming to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) process this year.
1. The 2017–18 FAFSA will be available earlier.
You can file your 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling you to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year.
2. You’ll use earlier income and tax information.
Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, you’ll be required to report income and tax info from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, you—and your parent(s), as appropriate—will report your 2015 income and tax info, rather than your 2016 income and tax information.
We understand that some families’ income may have changed significantly since the 2015 tax year. If this is the case for you, you must complete the FAFSA with the 2015 information. Then, after filing your FAFSA, contact the Financial Aid Office to explain your situation. The school has the ability to assess your situation and make adjustments to your FAFSA.
The following table provides a summary of key dates as we transition to using the early FAFSA submission timeframe and earlier tax information.
NOTE: MACC’s traditional summer term will require you to complete the 2016-2017 FAFSA. If you are enrolled in a program with a unique academic calendar, such as the Occupational Therapy Assistant, Accelerated Associate Degree Nursing, or Practical Nursing Certificate program, you will need to complete the 2017-2018 FAFSA for your summer semester.
We know you probably have some questions. Here are some we’ve been hearing from students:
How will the changes benefit me?
You might find that the FAFSA process is easier than you expected. From now on, the FAFSA will ask for older income and tax information that you will already have. This change means you won’t have to use estimates anymore, or log in later to update your FAFSA after you file taxes!
Hopefully you’ve already have done your 2015 taxes by the time you fill out your 2017–18 so you won’t have to wait to enter correct tax data into your FAFSA. Having the FAFSA available three months earlier will give you more time to meet most deadlines (although some will be early, so fill out the FAFSA right away just in case) and to explore and understand your financial aid options.
Your FAFSA must be submitted by February 1, 2017 for your eligibility to be considered for the Access Missouri Grant.
I cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to import my tax information, how can I be sure to enter the correct information for each line?
Since, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will be unavailable until the start of the next FAFSA season you should manually provide your 2015 tax information on the FAFSA.
The table below provides guidance on which line number to reference depending on the IRS tax form you filed. For more specific guidance on each item, visit http://bit.ly/2pw1Qhh.
(Note: If you’re using a tax transcript, there won’t be line numbers to reference, so read each question carefully.)
Since the 2017–18 FAFSA asks for the same tax and income information as the 2016–17 FAFSA, will my 2016–17 FAFSA info automatically be carried over into my 2017–18 renewal FAFSA?
No. Too much could have changed since you filed your last FAFSA, and there’s no way to predict what might be different, so you’ll need to enter the information again.
Do I have to update my 2017–18 FAFSA with my 2016 tax information after I file my 2016 taxes?
No. The 2017–18 FAFSA asks for 2015 tax info, and only 2015. Beginning October 1, you can fully submit the FAFSA in one sitting using your 2015 tax info. No updating necessary. (Hooray!)
But what if my family’s financial situation has changed since our 2015 taxes were filed? Can we report our 2016 tax information instead?
No. You must report your 2015 tax info on the 2017–18 FAFSA. You do not have the option to report your 2016 tax info. If your family has experienced a loss of income since the 2015 tax year, talk to the financial aid office about your unusual circumstance. We have the ability to assess your situation and make adjustments – on a case by case basis.
Note: The FAFSA asks for marital status as of the day you fill it out. So if you’re married now but weren’t in 2015 (and therefore didn’t file taxes as married), you’ll need to add your spouse’s income to your FAFSA.
Similarly, if you filed your 2015 taxes as married but you’re no longer married when you fill out the FAFSA, you’ll need to subtract your spouse’s income.
Since I’m required to report my 2015 tax information, do I also answer all the other questions on the FAFSA using information from 2015?
No. Here’s a guide for which year’s info you should use to answer the different types of questions on the FAFSA.
Will FAFSA deadlines be earlier since the application is launching earlier?
Yes. The Missouri FAFSA deadline is February 1, 2017. MACC is promoting this date so every student has an opportunity to be considered for the Access Missouri Grant (which is free money!).
MACC’s scholarship application deadline is March 17, 2017.
The 2017-2018 FAFSA can be completed anytime from October 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018. The importance of completing the FAFSA as early as possible is to provide you the information you need to know when choosing the best and most affordable college for you.
Tuition and fees are due by the first day of each semester. If you expect financial aid to be available to assist you with your educational expenses (tuition, fees, books, etc.) you must apply early to avoid late fees and other consequences! Don’t wait until July or August to apply, it will create more stress in your life than necessary.
We may need to collect additional information from you before a financial aid award can be calculated; so the earlier you complete your FAFSA, the more timely MACC will communicate with you regarding additional information needed (if necessary). Sometimes processing the additional information may take several weeks, so in order to prevent delays, we encourage you to complete your FAFSA early and follow-up quickly.
As always, it’s important to check deadlines of private scholarships, too, so you don’t miss out on any free money for college!
Can I fill out the FAFSA before I submit my college applications?
Yes, you can fill out the FAFSA even before you’ve submitted your college application; however, MACC cannot import your FAFSA into our software for processing until you have completed an admissions application. It’s FREE to apply to MACC! So why not go ahead and take care of that step now?
Will I receive my financial aid offer earlier if I apply earlier?
MACC will begin reviewing 2017-2018 FAFSA records in March 2017; if you completed your FAFSA early, you should receive some correspondence from the Financial Aid Office beginning in April.
If you’re applying to multiple schools or thinking of transferring to another school, you might want to look at the College Scorecard to compare costs at different schools while you wait for your aid offers to arrive. Note: You should be aware that the maximum Federal Pell Grant for 2017–18 might not be known until early 2017, so keep in mind that even if you do receive an aid offer early, it could change due to various factors.
What is MACC’s Federal School Code?
How do I create an FSA User ID?
Follow the FSA ID Guide
Where can I get more information about—and help with—the FAFSA?
Contact MACC’s Financial Aid Office! We are happy to help! You may also visit StudentAid.gov/fafsa/filling-out; and remember, as you fill out your FAFSA at fafsa.gov, you can refer to help text for every question and (during certain times of day) chat online with a customer service representative.