fafsaimageThere are two major changes taking place for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process. Students will be able to submit the FAFSA earlier and will report income information from an earlier tax year.

While traditionally the FAFSA filing cycle begins on January 1 of the year preceding the award/academic year (e.g., January 1, 2016, for the 2016-2017 award/academic year), beginning with the 2017–2018 FAFSA cycle, the application will become available to students and their families three months earlier on October 1 (e.g., October 1, 2016, for the 2017-2018 award/academic year).

The second change, again beginning with the 2017-2018 cycle, the FAFSA will collect income information from the tax/calendar year one year earlier than has been used in the past. Thus for the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students and families will provide income information from calendar year 2015 and not from calendar year 2016. Because of this, almost all tax return filers will be able to electronically transfer their tax information directly into their FAFSA by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).

What does this mean for UAB students? UAB will move the financial aid application priority deadline date to December 1. Provided there are no additional changes from the U.S. Department of Education, first-time incoming students may be able to see estimated award offers as early as mid-December, 2016 for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The chart below provides helpful information in understanding which tax year income is required depending on when a student plans to attend college.