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Complete Your FAFSA Early

This article appeared in an August 2016 issue of the student newsletter.

We won’t lie — applying for financial aid will probably never be fun. But some changes are coming that should make the process a little bit easier.

You’ll hear these changes referred to as “Early FAFSA” or “Prior-Prior Year.” The big things that are changing, starting with the 2017-2018 school year, are:

  • You can start filling out the FAFSA early – as early as Oct. 1, 2016 – instead of waiting until January.
  • You’ll use information from your previous year’s tax return (in this case, your 2015 tax return) to fill out the FAFSA.

Yep, it’ll be different … and good, for several reasons.

When you fill out the FAFSA for 2017-2018, we strongly encourage you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). The DRT lets you transfer data directly from your tax return into the FAFSA from the IRS website. The IRS DRT is available through the FAFSA website at

Using the IRS DRT will save you time and effort because:

  • You won’t need to find your tax return records.
  • You won’t have to worry about making mistakes entering your tax information on the FAFSA.
  • If you use the IRS DRT and don’t change any of the retrieved information in your FAFSA, you won’t need to provide tax transcripts to the Financial Aid Office if you’re selected for federal Verification.
  • If you use the IRS DRT for the 2017-2018 academic year, it will reduce the chances of questions from the Financial Aid Office or the Department of Education about conflicting information from your FAFSA records.

Less time, less stress … it’s all good!

For more information, visit

And of course, you can always contact the Financial Aid Call Center or visit your college Financial Aid Office with questions: