Changes to the FAFSA: What you need to know

As the 2017-2018 school year approaches, students and their families need to know about changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA is important for a few reasons, as it’s a pathway to receiving several forms of financial aid including grants, loans and work study. More information is available from the office of financial aid. Here’s a rundown of what’s new.

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Start your FAFSA Oct. 1

Submit your application sooner

Students can file a 2017-2018 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016. This is a permanent change and will allow students to complete their applications before the start of the new year.

Sending income information is easier

Beginning with the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students and families will report their 2015 income information. This is a switch from the past, when the application required financial information from the previous year. That means most income information should not change from students’ 2016-2017 FAFSA.

The most important part is to file as early as possible, as the priority deadline for state-funded programs such as the Access Missouri grant is now Feb. 1, 2017. Missouri State University –West Plains’s scholarship deadline is March 31, 2017. The priority deadline for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and Federal Work Study (FWS) is March 31, 2017.