Students can now apply for 2017-18 Financial Aid in October 2016

Change makes it possible for current and future college students to get ready for the next school year earlier

A major change to federal financial aid has the potential to significantly benefit all current and future college students.

Up until this year, the earliest students could apply for financial aid for the upcoming school year was January using the previous year’s tax return information. For example, students seeking financial aid for the current 2016-17 school year began applying for Financial Aid in January 2016 using the information from their 2015 tax return.

But beginning this year students can apply for financial aid for the upcoming school year in October using their tax return information from the year prior to that. This means that for the 2017-18 school year students can begin applying now in October 2016 using their 2015 tax return information. In the coming years students, will continue to use their tax return information from two years prior to the school year.  So, for the 2018-19 school year students can begin applying in October 2017 using their 2016 tax return information.

Because the new system utilizes tax data from two years prior, it is often called “Prior-Prior Year.”

In addition to giving students the opportunity to begin applying for financial aid three months earlier than before, the new Prior-Prior Year system will give students and their families an earlier and more accurate idea of their anticipated financial aid and college costs.

“This is so much better for our students,” said Jayne Dinse, South Central College Director of Financial Aid. “Before when students had to use the prior year’s tax return, even though they could technically apply for financial aid in January, the reality was that many had to wait until March or April, after they or their parents’ tax return was actually able to be completed. The new Prior-Prior Year system will provide students with the information they need to plan and make informed choices for themselves and their families.”

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application is used not only by the federal government to award Pell Grants and other federal aid, but is also the basis for state grants, loans and other aid. For more information on Prior-Prior Year and completing the FAFSA form, students and their families are encouraged to attend one of the Financial Aid Help Sessions held at South Central College every Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. and Thursday at 10 a.m. at the college’s campuses in Faribault and North Mankato (check in at Student Affairs Center). All are invited to participate in the free sessions, regardless of what college they plan to attend.