In September 2015, President Obama announced a change to the FAFSA affecting when students can apply for college financial aid and which tax year's information is provided. In the past, the FAFSA became available in January for an upcoming academic year.
Starting with the 2017-18 academic year, the FAFSA will become available in October 2016. Students and their families will complete the 2017-18 FAFSA using 2015 federal tax information.
Benefits for Students and Families
- Students no longer need to wait until January 1 to file their FAFSA for the following academic year.
- Since financial aid will be based on an earlier tax year, students can file the FAFSA using actual rather than estimated tax information, and may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer some of their tax information directly from the IRS.
- It should be easier for students to provide any necessary documents to the financial aid office.
- Link to NASFAA video: How Prior-Prior Year Helps Students
Recommended 2017-18 FAFSA Filing Dates and Brown Application Deadlines
- Early Decision Applicants
- Regular Decision Applicants
- Current Students – Application deadline is May 5, 2017 – more information will be available late January.
- Graduate and Executive Masters Applicants
Am I required to submit my FAFSA earlier?
See the links above for Brown’s application deadlines. You do not need to submit your FAFSA prior to these dates. The application date for current students will not be earlier than in prior years, but you may complete your FAFSA earlier if you wish.
If my financial aid application is completed earlier, does that mean I will be notified of my financial aid eligibility earlier?
Incoming students who apply for aid will be notified of their eligibility (or of any documents needed to determine eligibility) at the time of their admission decision. Current students who apply for aid by our deadline will typically receive a financial aid award in June.
If I didn’t file taxes in 2015, should I use 2016 information?
No. If you did not file taxes in 2015, you should still report any untaxed income you received for that year on your FAFSA. You should also submit a completed Non-Filer Statement for you and/or your parents to our office. You can download this form on our website.
Can I choose to use 2016 tax information on my financial aid application instead of 2015?
No. The 2017-18 financial aid applications require that you use 2015 tax information. The applications for 2018-19 will be based on 2016 tax and income information. See the chart below.
What if my family earned less income in 2016 compared to 2015?
If your family earned less income in 2016, you should still complete the aid application using 2015 information. You can then contact us about the change in your family’s income. If you are able to document the change, we may be able to re-evaluate your application using 2016 income on appeal.
Which tax year do I use on the FAFSA?
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?
If you choose the Renewal FAFSA option when you start your application at fafsa.gov, some basic information from your 2016-17 FAFSA will be pre-populated in your 2017-18 FAFSA. However, your tax and income information will not. You may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer some of the tax information directly from the IRS to your FAFSA.
If I submitted my 2015 tax returns to your office when I applied for aid in 2016-17, do I need to submit them again for 2017-18?
If you are a current student and submitted your 2015 tax returns to us already, you do not need to submit them again. Starting in January 2017, you should be able to log in to Banner Self Service and see if any additional documents are required.
Since my 2017-18 financial aid application will be based on 2015 income, will I receive the same award I received in 2016-17?
No. Although we will be using 2015 tax information for federal aid eligibility, this does not mean that your award for 2017-2018 will be exactly the same as your 2016-2017 award. In addition to income, there are many other factors that impact your financial aid award, such as but not limited to:
- Parent assets
- Student assets
- Number of children enrolled in college
- Special Circumstances
- Yearly updates to financial aid calculation
- Yearly updates to cost of attendance
For additional information students and parents may consult the U.S. Department of Education blog.