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The new 2017 Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available and for many applicants, especially those renewing their FAFSA, the improved process and streamlined criteria is a welcome change.  

Show me the money
Each academic year, students seeking federal aid funds are required to complete a FAFSA. The FAFSA must be filled out and submitted in order to receive Federal Student Aid for higher education costs.  Federal Student Aid includes a variety of financial aid awards: the PELL grant, Stafford Loans, and College PLUS loans, to name a few. Individual schools may also require students to fill out a FAFSA even if they are paying everything out of pocket.

Ease of filing
The new FAFSA boasts two significant changes:

  • Previously, applicants had to wait until their (or their parents) current income tax return was completed (or submit the FAFSA and then go back and amend their application, which was confusing and burdensome). Not surprising, the biggest change is that applicants do not have to wait until the 2016 Income Tax Return has been filed to file a FAFSA. Instead, students may now use their 2015 Individual Income Tax Return data to complete the application.

  • Also new this year is the FAFSA Renewal link. When starting the 2017-2018 application, applicants can either choose to fill out a new FAFSA for 2017-2018 or if you have a 2016-2017 FAFSA on file, simply click the FAFSA Renewal link. By choosing both of these options, the amount of data you must enter on your FAFSA is significantly reduced. As a professional in the graduate program, I was shocked that I was able to complete my FAFSA in less than 10 minutes.

Important Reminders
To ensure a smooth FAFSA application process, keep in mind these nine points:

  • Go to FAFSA.ED.GOV to apply. Be leery of solicitations and weblinks that do not end in .gov claiming to be a FAFSA site. Some are scams, others may charge a fee, and some unscrupulous sites pose as governmental or “official” sites and it is only after submitting your personal data, you realize your identity has been compromised. (Read:
  • As a recipient of Federal Student Aid, you may qualify for tax credits worth up to $2,500 for each qualifying student. Learn more—I’m ready to have the conversation with you.
  • The 2017 – 2018 FAFSA is for the Fall of 2017 and Spring of 2018 academic semesters. A FAFSA must be renewed each year you intend to receive any FAFSA funding.
  • The deadline for the 2017-2018 FAFSA is June 30, 2017 may vary depending on your state of residence.
  • To login, you will need either your FAFSA ID (if a FAFSA renewal), or if a first time applicant, your social security number and date of birth.
  • You can still use the IRS data retrieval tool to get your tax information automatically imported into your FAFSA. The process is within your FAFSA application and requires you to only have your full name and address as shown on your 2015 Individual Income Tax Return.
  • Parent(s) and/or Guardian(s) information is still required to complete the application IF the student in question is a dependent on their tax return and not their own.

If you would like to discuss the 2017-2018 FAFSA or any related tax or income tax filing issues, please contact me at or one of the tax professionals at Zinner & Co. at 216.831.0733. We’re happy to help and ready to have the conversation with you.