Early FAFSA refers to a change in the required financial data on the FAFSA beginning with the 2017-18 academic year.
This change was announced by President Obama on September 14, 2015, in an effort to give students more time to prepare for their educational investment.
Historically, students have been required to provide the most recent tax information on their FAFSA. For example, the 2015-16 school year required 2014 data and the 2016-17 school year required 2015 tax data. For the 2017-18 school year, the 2015 tax information will be required again ("prior-prior" year).
Requiring prior-prior year information allows students more time to fill out the FAFSA. The 17-18 FAFSA will be available by October 1, 2016, instead of the normal January 1st availability.
Conflicting Information Could Impact Your Financial Aid
Since the 2016-17 school year and the 2017-18 school year both require the same 2015 tax information, it is important that the financial data matches
For example, if you have a data mismatch, such as a different Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on the 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSA, then the Financial Aid Office would be required to find out which AGI you reported is correct. A change in your AGI could affect your financial aid awards in both the 2017-18 and the 2016-17 years! This means that your 2016-17 financial aid could be adjusted in the middle of the school year because of data placed on the 2017-18 FAFSA.
We want to mitigate any surprises in your financial aid as much as possible. For this reason, we highly recommend that you ensure your 2016-17 FAFSA information is correct. The most efficient way to do this is to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool through the FAFSA. The Data Retrieval Tool links your FAFSA data to the IRS database and ensures that the FAFSA data matches IRS records. Then when you fill out the 2017-18 FAFSA, you could use the Data Retrieval Tool again to ensure that all of the data was input correctly.
NOTE: Some data can be different from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSA applications; including