FAFSA Changes for 2017–18 & Beyond

Early FAFSA and Prior-Prior Year

On Sept. 14, 2015, President Obama announced two significant changes to the process for filing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Early FAFSA and the use of Prior-Prior Year income.  This webpage is designed to help you understand what these changes mean, how they will impact your completion of the FAFSA, and how they will impact your application for financial aid at Millersville University for the 2017-18 academic year and beyond.

What are Early FAFSA and Prior-Prior Year?

Early FAFSA:  You will be able to file your 2017–18 FAFSA beginning on Oct. 1, 2016, rather than January 1, 2017; January 1 has been the traditional start date for many years. This change to an earlier submission date will be permanent; meaning that, in each succeeding year, October 1 will continue to be the first date for completing the FAFSA for the academic year that starts the following year. 

Prior Prior YearIn the past, when completing a FAFSA, you would enter tax information from the most recently completed tax year (the Prior year).  For example, for the 2016-17 academic year, students used 2015 tax information.  The problem with this was that many people needed to complete their FAFSA soon after the start of the new year, meaning they had to rush to complete their taxes first.  Many people could not complete their taxes in time to meet financial aid deadlines.

Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, you will be required to report income information from the tax year that is one year earlier (the Prior Prior year).  For the 2017–18 FAFSA, this means that students (and parents, as appropriate) will report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information.  For students who filed a 2016-17 FAFSA, this means they will be using the same 2015 tax year information again for the 2017-18  FAFSA, but this will be a one-time only situation in this transition year.

This chart illustrates the beginning FAFSA filing dates and appropriate tax years for the next few academic years.

IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND COLLEGE FROM: YOU WILL SUBMIT THIS FAFSA: YOU CAN SUBMIT THE FAFSA FROM: USING INCOME AND TAX INFORMATION FROM:
JULY 1, 2016 – JUNE 30, 2017 2016–17 JANUARY 1, 2016 – JUNE 30, 2017 2015
JULY 1, 2017 – JUNE 30, 2018 2017-18 OCTOBER 1, 2016 – JUNE 30, 2018 2015
JULY 1, 2018 – JUNE 30, 2019 2018-19 OCTOBER 1, 2017 – JUNE 30, 2019 2016
JULY 1, 2019 – JUNE 30, 2020 2019-20 OCTOBER 1, 2018 – JUNE 30, 2020 2017

Click here to visit a federal government webpage that repeats some of this information, but also has links to some resources that will help you to better understand these changes.  We particularly recommend the College Students and Parents: What You Need to Know About the 2017­–18 FAFSA® link near the bottom of this page.

What does this mean for Millersville University students?

While many of these changes will apply equally to all students, there are some differences depending on whether you are an incoming student for the fall semester 2017-2018 academic year or a continuing student.

Incoming Students

  • Although you may file your FAFSA beginning October 1st, Millersville University won’t be able to send you a financial aid package that early.  We hope to begin sending financial aid packages to new students in mid to late January, but this may happen earlier or later depending on the implementation process of this major change to the financial aid delivery system. 
  • In order to receive your aid package during the fall of 2016, you’ll want to make sure you have completed your FAFSA and completed any other required documents we ask you to submit.  If you ahve paid your Admission's confirmation fee, it is very important that you pay attention to your Millersville University email account, which is how we will inform you of any additional information we need from you in order to complete your financial aid package.
  • Even though we will begin working on your financial aid package earlier than previous years, the Millersville University priority deadline for completing your financial aid applications will not change.  For the 2017-18 year, that deadline will be March 15, 2017.  Of course, the longer you wait to file, the longer it will be until we can send your aid package.

Continuing Students

  • You can file your FAFSA beginning October 1st, 2016, and we encourage you to do so as soon as possible, but be aware that these changes will not affect the timeline for continuing students to receive their financial aid packages.  Just as in previous years, you should expect to receive your package in early to mid-June (June 2017 for the 2017-18 academic year).
  • The main advantage to you in filing earlier will be to give you more time to complete any needed paperwork so that your applications will be ready for the completion of your financial aid package in June.The Millersville University priority deadline for completing your financial aid applications will not change.  For the 2017-18 year, that deadline will be March 15, 2017.
  • Filing earlier or later (as long as it is between October 1, 2016 and March 15, 2017) will not change the amount of aid you will receive.
  • If you have been selected for verification in the past, you’ll be glad to hear that this new system makes verification simpler. If selected for verification for the 2017-2018 year, most applicants should be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) right away because tax information from 2015 should now be processed and ready to use via the DRT.  This streamlined process will cut down on the amount of additional information you have to submit to us and eliminate wait times for things like tax transcripts, allowing you to more easily receive your financial aid package on schedule.

Here are a few more questions and answers

What is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

  • The FAFSA is the application that students must complete to apply for federal student aid and need-based forms of institutional financial aid.  Federal student aid includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal student loans, and work-study opportunities.  At Millersville University, you must also complete a FAFSA in order to be considered for the need-based Millersville University Grant. 
  • You must complete a FAFSA every year.

Will FAFSA applicants have an option of which tax year information to use?

  • No.  Beginning with the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students and parents will be required to use income and tax information from two years prior (as described above under Prior Prior Year).  For example, for the 2017-18 FAFSA, you must use your 2015 tax data.  The advantage of Prior Prior Year is that most applicants should easily be able to roll their tax data into their FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

Will 2016–17 FAFSA information be carried over to the 2017-18 FAFSA?

  • No, too much non-financial data, such as household size or number of family members attending college, could have changed.

How to access your Millersville University email account.

  • To gain access to your Millersville e-mail address, you must be an accepted student and have paid your confirmation fee with Admisssion. For information on how to activate your e-mail and MAX account, go to http://myaccount.millersville.edu and click on First Time Account Setup. Enter your Millersville University student ID number, date of birth and follow the instructions.  
  • Start checking your Millersville University student email right away.  We send important information to you through this account, so check it on a regular basis!  
  • If you are having difficulty accessing your MAX Account, please contact:  The Technology Help Desk at 717-871-7777
  • If you have any questions about changes to the FAFSA, the application process, or financial aid in general, please contact us:
    • MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY - Office of Financial Aid

      P.O. Box 1002, Millersville, PA 17551-0302   

      Phone: 717-871-5100 | Fax: 717-871-7980 | fa.mail@millersville.edu