In 2016, students can start filing their FAFSAs as early as October 1, using the family’s tax data from the previous year. The President announced the change recently, saying the goal was to give families an earlier and more accurate idea of their anticipated financial aid and college costs.
The timeframe isn’t the only thing that’s getting easier. Currently, students have to wait until January to file, and have to base their answers on income that will be submitted in April, which requires guesswork that has to be readjusted later. The new system will take that guesswork and extra paperwork away.
The White House has also created a new tool called the College Scorecard, which can estimate how much you’ll have to pay to attend a specific school, based on your family’s income.