FAFSA and Prior-Prior Year

Beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, students will be allowed to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) beginning October 1 (versus January 1 in previous years) using tax information from 2015. This change is known as “prior-prior year” (or PPY) because students will use tax information from two years prior to complete the FAFSA. In years past, families would have to first file their taxes for the current fiscal year before they were able to file the FAFSA.

Watch this quick video to learn more about how you’ll benefit from this new move to using prior-prior year income data.

Frequently asked questions

Completing a FAFSA should now become easier, more efficient and more accurate. Plus, traditional, first-year students may even receive their financial aid award information earlier since they no longer need to wait until January (see next paragraph for more details). Students in our graduate, extended or online programs will receive their financial aid award information early to midsummer.

New, accepted undergraduate students could receive their financial aid award packages earlier than in the past if they take advantage of filing their 2017-18 FAFSA soon after it becomes available on October 1. In fact, the Financial Aid Office plans to start sending out financial aid packages to new fall 2017 accepted undergraduate students beginning in December 2016 (versus March).

If you plan to attend college from July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018, you will submit the 2017-18 FAFSA, using income and tax information from 2015. For more information, visit StudentAid.gov.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows automatic population of a student’s FAFSA with tax return data and decreases the need for additional documentation. It can be used by millions more students and families under PPY, since tax data from two years prior would be readily available upon application. It cuts down on the need to make corrections to the completed FAFSA which, in turn, reduces the need to adjust already packaged aid.

With the transition to the FAFSA collecting prior-prior year income, returning students will have an overlap year when it comes to the tax information being used on their 2017-18 FAFSA as they will have filed a 2016-17 FAFSA using their 2015 year income and will again be required to file a 2017-18 FAFSA that also uses their 2015 year income.

While the tax year information will be the same on both FAFSAs, there are other data elements on the FAFSA that will be specific to the application year the student seeks aid (see chart below). It will be important, however, that the 2015 tax information entered on your 2016-17 FAFSA matches what you enter on your 2017-18 FAFSA; otherwise, the Financial Aid Office will have to contact you to resolve any discrepancies. Using the IRS Data Retrieval Option on both your 2016-17 and 2017-18 FAFSAs will eliminate any differences in your information!

Income Information

Timeframe Used to Provide Information

Adjusted Gross Income

2015 (prior-prior year)

Income Taxes Paid

2015 (prior-prior year)

Income Earned from Work

2015 (prior-prior year)

Untaxed Income

2015 (prior-prior year)

Balance of Cash, Checking/Savings
Accounts, Investments, etc.

As of the date the FAFSA is filed

Household Size

Expected for 2017-18 award year

Number in College

Expected for 2017-18 award year

Parent Marital Status

As of the date the FAFSA is filed

Returning undergraduate students will continue to receive their financial aid packages in late spring/summer due to required satisfactory academic progress checks.