The Big Changes for 2017–18

Starting with the 2017­–18 application cycle, the following changes will be put in place: 

  • Students will be able to submit a FAFSA® earlier.  Students will be able to file a 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling students to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year. (There is NO CHANGE to the 2016–17 schedule. The FAFSA became available January 1 as in previous years.)
  • Students will use earlier income information. Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students will be required to report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) will report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information.  

The following table provides a summary of key dates as we transition to using the early FAFSA submission timeframe and earlier tax information. 

View Accessible Version

If you’d like more details about the upcoming changes, you may read the fact sheet called College Students and Parents: What You Need to Know About the 2017­–18 FAFSA®.


Frequently Asked Questions About the 2017–18 FAFSA®

Browse these questions, and visit the FAFSA: Applying for Aid section of our site to learn more about the FAFSA process.

Will deadlines be earlier?
The federal deadline won’t be earlier, but some state and school deadlines will. Most state and school deadlines haven’t changed, but be aware of this: Several states’ deadlines have changed from “as soon as possible after Jan. 1” to “as soon as possible after Oct. 1.” Find state deadlines on the FAFSA and school deadlines on schools’ websites.

Do I have to apply for admission to a school before I list it on my FAFSA?
No. On your FAFSA, list all the schools to which you have applied or might apply.

Will 2016–17 FAFSA information be carried over onto the 2017–18 FAFSA?
If you choose the Renewal FAFSA option when you start your application at, some basic information from your 2016–17 FAFSA will be prepopulated in your 2017–18 FAFSA. However, your tax and income information will not. (Too much could have changed in your life since you filled out the 2016–17 FAFSA.)

Can I choose to report 2016 information if my family’s income has dropped significantly since we filed 2015 taxes?
No. You must report 2015 tax and income information, as the FAFSA requires. If your family’s financial situation has changed dramatically since then, you should complete the FAFSA questions as required, submit the FAFSA, then contact the school and discuss your situation with the financial aid office after you receive your financial letter.

Do I report my 2015 tax and income information on the 2017–18 FAFSA now, and then update it once I’ve filed my 2016 taxes?
No. Do not update after filing your taxes. The 2017–18 FAFSA asks for 2015 tax information.

What if my parents’ (or my) marital status has changed since we filed 2015 taxes? How do we supply tax and income information on the FAFSA?
Here are some tips for this type of situation:

  • The FAFSA asks for marital status “as of today” (the day it’s filled out). So if the student or parent is married now but wasn’t in 2015 (and therefore didn’t file taxes as married), the spouse’s income will need to be added to the FAFSA.
  • Similarly, if the student or parent filed 2015 taxes as married but is no longer married when filling out the FAFSA, the spouse’s income will need to be subtracted.
  • And if the student or parent was married when filing 2015 taxes, then got divorced and is now married to someone else, there’s a bit more math to do: Subtract the ex’s income, then add the new spouse’s income.
  • The help text in will discuss all these situations.

Will I receive aid offers from Salem earlier if I apply earlier?
No. The timeline for financial aid offers will not change. This simply allows you to get started earlier and get it out of the way faster. Aid offers for incoming first-year students will be sent in early March and aid offers for returning students is expected near the end of June or in early July.