Financial Aid

Financial Aid

Prior-Prior Year: Financial Aid Change for 2017-18

On September 14, 2015, President Obama announced significant changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process that will impact millions of students. Starting Fall 2016, students will be able to:

  • Submit a FAFSA earlier: Students will be able to file a 2017-18 FAFSA as early as October 1, 2016, rather than beginning on January 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling students to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year.
  • Use Earlier Income Information: Beginning with the 2017-18 FAFSA, students will report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017-18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) will report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information).

The following table provides a summary of key dates as we transition to using the early FAFSA submission timeframe and earlier tax information.

When a Student is Attending College (School Year)

When a Student Can Submit a FAFSA

Which Year’s Income Information is Required

July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016

January 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016


July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017

January 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017


July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018

October 1, 2016 – June 30, 2018


July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019

October 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019



Conflicting Information Could Impact Your Grant Amounts:
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 on both years of the FAFSA applications. For example, if you have a data mismatch, such as a different Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships is required to determine the correct AGI. 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. Adjustments in awards may result in a return of funds and an outstanding balance.

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 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.

New Students Could Receive Financial Aid Award Letters Earlier:

One of the benefits to the Prior-Prior Year change is that new students could receive their financial aid awards earlier. This can potentially give the students more time to compare financial aid awards between schools to make an informed decision about which school to attend. For this reason, some students may desire to complete the FAFSA when it opens on October 1, 2016. (The FAFSA normally would have opened on January 1, 2017.)

The move to PPY is a victory for students and college-access advocates. Higher education institutions, policy groups, and lawmakers have long advocated for PPY and have urged the Obama administration to use its existing authority to implement this common-sense change.

We understand that this change to the FAFSA is technical and can be confusing. Please contact us with any questions so that we can assist you.