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Big Changes to FAFSA for 2017-2018

FAFSA applicationAccording to the UCs, everyone should file for financial aid because you just never know. If you are going to be filing, it’s important to know that for the 2017-2018  academic year, FAFSA (which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid) has made some significant revisions.

New start date
The FAFSA application window opens on October 1 starting this year and will open on October 1 henceforth from here on out. In prior years, FAFSA did not open applications until January 1. Having this extra three-month window to apply gives applicants a much better opportunity to figure out where they stand and eliminates a great deal of pressure.  (The deadline to submit is still March 2 and the earlier the submission, the more money is available.)
–> For more information, click here: To fill out the FAFSA application, go here:

Earlier tax return
Another significant change is the tax return requested will be for the year earlier. In other words, for the 2017-2018 FAFSA, applicants will be submitting the 2015 tax return.  Prior to this year, applicants needed to submit the equivalent of the 2016 return, which often entailed  a fair amount of estimating until the return was processed. Now, not only is the tax return complete, it can also be auto-imported from the IRS Data Retrieval Tool directly into the FAFSA application. Simply go to to find it and implement the auto-import feature.

When a Student is
Attending a UC 
FAFSA Application
Tax Return  

Fall 2017–June 30, 2018

October 1, 2016–March 2, 2017


Fall 2018–June 30, 2019

October 1, 2017–March 2, 2018


Fall 2019–June 30, 2020

October 1, 2018–March 2, 2019


Fall 2020–June 30, 2021

October 1, 2019–March 2, 2020


Extra considerations

  • If you submitted a FAFSA for 2016-2017, you cannot roll it over to this year, even though you submitted the 2016 return last cycle. You must resubmit the FAFSA and tax return.
  • Having this earlier window to submit both FAFSA and tax return is unlikely to result in a significantly earlier notification of your financial aid package. Financial aid results usually come within a week of UC acceptance decisions, so it may or may not shave off a few days.
  • Having a three-month earlier submission window may result in your adding colleges later in the process. No worries. If you already filed your FAFSA, simply go to and add in the colleges.

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Lindy is an independent UC admissions consultant, who works with both transfers and freshmen. She also has just completed her first novel, a supernatural thriller set in San Francisco.

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