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Early FAFSA

Applying for Financial Aid

Early FAFSA + Prior-Prior Year Information

The way students complete the FAFSA is changing!

Here's what you need to know:

  • Students can complete the 2017-18 FAFSA as soon as Oct. 1, 2016. 
  • Students and parents will use their 2015 tax information when completing the 2017-18 FAFSA. This is referred to as Prior-Prior Year because the prior, prior year's tax information is being use.
  • Students still will use account balance information as of the date the FAFSA is filed and expected household information for the 2017-18 academic year when completing the FAFSA.

What does this mean for you?

  • You will have the opportunity to receive a financial aid package earlier from Alverno, which will give you more time to plan the best way for you to pay for your education.
  • Because the 2017-18 FAFSA uses the prior years' tax information, you do not need to wait until you or your parents file taxes or update the FAFSA once estimates are submitted.
  • You will still need to file a FAFSA every year. The FAFSA will just be available to fill out earlier.

Here’s a summary of key dates for submitting the FAFSA, depending on when you plan to go to school: 

1. Why is this a positive change?

Using tax information from two years prior to the academic year ensures that most families will have filed taxes before applying for financial aid. Families will be able to use actual tax information, rather than estimated, when completing the FAFSA. Families have the ability to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) when completing the FAFSA, which allows for automatic transfer of tax information to a student’s FAFSA.

 2. Who does this impact?

Anyone who will be attending college in the 2017-18 School Year (7/1/2017-6/30/2018).

 3. Will I have the option to use my 2016 tax information for my 2017-18 FAFSA?

No. The law was written so that 2015 tax information is the only information that will be accepted. However, if your circumstances have changed dramatically from 2015 to present, you may consider working with the Financial Aid Office to see if your circumstances qualify for a re-evaluation (see question 7 below).

 4. What year’s information do I use for some of the other questions asked by the FAFSA?

Household and Asset data questions will always be asked for the value as of the date you file the FAFSA. This is not a change from previous years. For a helpful chart of specific data elements, see: What Data to Provide on the 2017-18 FAFSA

 5. Why has this changed?

This is a change to Federal Law that affects all students, no matter what school they are attending. Please see video for more information on the background of the change.

 6. Will the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) be available when the 2017-18 FAFSA becomes available for filing?

Yes. You are strongly encouraged to use this tool to reduce the potential for conflicting information. If you are selected for Verification, this tool also satisfies the requirement to verify tax information, so you will already be one step ahead.

 7. What if my information from 2015 is drastically different than my current information?

Contact the Financial Aid Office (382-6262). A Financial Aid Counselor can help determine if your situation qualifies for an adjustment, called a Professional Judgment. You will be asked to fill out a re-evaluation form, and provide additional documentation about your circumstances and what information has changed.

 8. Why do I have to fill out another FAFSA for 2017-18 if it’s using the same 2015 tax information as the 2016-17 FAFSA that I already completed?

As mentioned above, not all of the questions asked on the FAFSA are based on tax information. Asset and Household information is based on the date you fill out the FAFSA. The Department of Education responded with the following, there are too many instances where such pre-populating would result in incorrect information being included on the 2017-2018 FAFSA – e.g., changes in dependency status, changes in marital status, professional judgment. Using the IRS DRT is the fast and most accurate way to input income and tax information into the FAFSA. Use of the IRS DRT will dramatically reduce the likelihood that the applicant will be selected for verification.

 9. Will I get my Award Letter sooner?

The Financial Aid Office plans to start the awarding processes sooner than in previous years. When you get your award letter is based on when you submit your FAFSA and any additional documentation that was requested, such as verification documentation. When you receive your award letter also depends on the total number of students who are in the queue to be packaged.

10. Do I still have to complete a FAFSA every year?

Yes. Certain information is always based on the date you file the FAFSA and changes from year to year. You are required to file a FAFSA every year that you are interested in receiving Financial Aid.

Resources and Links for students:

Where to complete your FAFSA: www.fafsa.gov

Video on Early FAFSA: http://bcove.me/2gt51evd

Video on Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiNkqyCIuro

 Questions? Contact us at 414-382-6262 or financial.aid@alverno.edu

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