The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will open for submissions earlier each year and allow the use of income and tax information from an earlier year, starting with the FAFSA for the 2017–18 academic year. This will allow you to have more time to complete the FAFSA for each academic year, and more time to file each year’s taxes before they are needed for the corresponding FAFSA.
The 2017–18 FAFSA is now available for you to submit, using tax information from 2015. The 2017–18 FAFSA will cover the academic year starting with fall 2017 and ending with summer 2018. It became available for you to submit starting October 1, 2016, and going forward each year, the FAFSA for the following academic year will become available on October 1. You will not be required to submit the FAFSA earlier, but doing so may help you prepare earlier for the next academic year.
While you can submit the FAFSA until June 30 of the academic year for which you are applying for aid (i.e., June 30, 2018, for the 2017–18 FAFSA), submitting before priority deadlines will ensure that you can be considered for the maximum amount of aid from available sources. Penn State’s priority filing deadlines for the 2017–18 academic year will be February 15, 2017, for new students starting in the 2017–18 year, and April 15, 2017, for continuing students. You can still submit the FAFSA after the priority filing deadline, and you will still be reviewed for the main sources of aid used by Penn State students.
When you submit the 2017–18 FAFSA, you will use 2015 tax information. Similarly, the FAFSA for each academic year moving forward will require tax information from two years prior. Previously, you used the most recent year’s tax information and submitted the FAFSA beginning in January for the upcoming academic year. Using tax information from two years prior may eliminate the need to rush to complete the most recent year’s taxes, or use estimated tax information, in order to submit the next FAFSA.
If you are a continuing student, you may have already used 2015 tax information for the 2016–17 FAFSA. You will still need to submit a new FAFSA for the 2017–18 year if you plan to apply for aid again, and you will need to use 2015 tax information again for the 2017–18 FAFSA. You may be eligible to import your tax information directly from the IRS, which will make the process quick and easy.
If you plan to be a student during the 2017–18 academic year, from fall 2017 through summer 2018, you are encouraged to submit the 2017–18 FAFSA. While you are not required to submit the FAFSA, it is the only way to apply for federal financial aid. In addition, Penn State uses the FAFSA to determine eligibility for financial aid awarded by the University, and you may need to submit it to be considered for grants or scholarships from your state or private organizations.
Visit the Federal Student Aid website to learn more about the change in FAFSA timing and required tax information. You can also contact the Penn State World Campus Financial Aid Office for any specific questions you may have about your individual circumstances, or financial aid eligibility, at 814-867-4244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.