The FAFSA must be completed each year in order to be eligible to apply for federal financial assistance and to maintain eligibility for need-based institutional funding. The 2017-2018 FAFSA became available online starting October 1, 2016.
Learn more about applying for financial aid for:
Beginning October 1, 2016 students should file their 2017-2018 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for financial aid earlier than ever before. Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid beginning October 1, 2016, or as soon thereafter as possible, to increase their opportunity to receive aid awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Students who complete their 2017-2018 FAFSA in October can expect to begin receiving their financial aid award notifications in December.
To access and sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as access federal websites related to financial aid, students must create an FSA ID. Parents whose information is included on the FAFSA must also create an FSA ID to sign the FAFSA electronically, as well as to access federal websites related to financial aid.
You will need to complete the following when creating your FSA ID:
- Provide personal email (unique to each user)
- Provide social security number
- Provide birthdate
- Select two challenge questions
- Create two challenge questions
- Select an important date (not your own birthdate)
The FSA ID should be created at least one week prior to completing the FAFSA.
Create an FSA ID now.
The Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is a feature of the FAFSA that allows most users to upload their tax information onto the FAFSA. The DRT can easily be used with just a few clicks by students and parents whose information is included on the FAFSA. The information you upload is completely accurate and confirmed by the IRS.
Filing your FAFSA has never been easier. The 2017-2018 FAFSA will use your 2015 tax information, already filed with the IRS, and does not need to be updated after you file your 2016 taxes. Learn more about the DRT.
How to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) when completing the FAFSA:
- Log into the FAFSA using the student's FSA ID and password
- On the financial information tab, you will see a “link to IRS” button if you are eligible to use the DRT. Click the “Link to IRS” button and retrieve your tax return information.
- Check the “transfer my tax information into the FAFSA” box and click the “transfer now” button. Once the information has been transferred, do not change any transferred information.
Please note, you will not be able to use the data retrieval tool if you:
- Filed as married filing separately; or
- Filed a Federal 1040X Amended tax return, Puerto Rican or foreign tax return; or
- Filed electronically less than three weeks prior to filing the FAFSA, or filed by mail less than eleven weeks prior to filing the FAFSA.
If you are unable to use the DRT, you should enter your tax information manually and submit the FAFSA. Once it has been more than three weeks since you electronically filed a tax return, or eleven weeks since you filed a paper tax return, you should go back to the FAFSA and update your tax information using the DRT.
Below are some frequently asked questions about the changes in the financial aid application process, effective October 1, 2016 for the 2017-18 FAFSA. If your question is not answered below, review information from the Federal Department of Education for college students and parents.
- Students (and their parents, if applicable) will not need to estimate income information and will not need to update their income information as in the past since the FAFSA now only requires taxes already filed.
- There will be more time for students to explore and understand financial aid options and apply for private scholarships.
- Applying early means getting your award notification earlier. Students who file October 1 or shortly thereafter, can expect to begin receiving award notifications in December.
- Students will be more prepared for the change in the billing cycle scheduled for 2017-18.
- Receiving an award notification earlier encourages students to complete their financial aid requirements earlier.