Students will no longer have to wait until January 1st to access and begin submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA application cycle will now open three months earlier, October 1, 2016. October 1st will remain the application availability date in future years also. Along with the date change, students are now required to use tax information from two years before the financial aid year; hence the term Prior-Prior-Year (PPY). For the 2017-2018 cycle, students will submit information from the 2015 tax period.
One of the main challenges numerous students and parents face is navigating the education system and ensuring that they are able to make the best decisions regarding higher education. With the rising cost of attendance, increasing levels of debt, and affordability concerns for low-income, first-generation students, the completion of the FAFSA in a timely manner is imperative, especially since some financial aid opportunities are limited and awarded early in the application cycle. Therefore, with these new changes, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Office of the U.S. Department of Education aims to streamline the application process, while also allowing students and parents to be informed earlier about their options. Through these changes, students should be able to make informed decisions and gain the freedom and ability to pursue their dreams.