2017-18: Changes in the Aid Process

Seeking financial assistance for the 2017-18 academic year brings with it a couple of significant changes to the financial aid application process. The University of Cincinnati wants students – both new and returning – to understand what is changing so as to be considered for maximum aid eligibility.

While new financial aid filers will not experience any changes as they have not previously applied, parents who are often required to apply with them on the FAFSA may have completed the FAFSA with older students. Please share this information on FAFSA changes with your parent(s).

FAFSA Available October 1

Students can now complete their annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) starting October 1 – a full 3 months earlier than before! 

That means new students can complete the FAFSA as they apply for admission to colleges, and returning students should start filling out the FAFSA for next year almost as soon as the current school year starts.

The FAFSA is the one aid application used at UC for all federal, state, and institutional financial aid.

Having the FAFSA available sooner allows students to complete the aid application and receive next year's aid package sooner. Knowing what aid is being made available to you can help in financial planning and budgeting. 

An earlier financial aid application and award package can assist new students with selecting their college and preparing for college expenses. Continuing college students can better plan for the upcoming year's costs, work options, and budgeting plans.

Easier Access to FAFSA Tax Information

Beginning with the 2017-18 FAFSA, the application will collect income information from the tax year two years prior. For the 2017-18 FAFSA, students and families will provide income information from the 2015 tax year.

You may see the FAFSA and other financial aid documents refer to prior prior year income or PPY.

Using an earlier tax year to determine eligibility for financial aid will make it significantly simpler for families to complete their FAFSA, because they will not be working to get tax information for the FAFSA while also trying to get those taxes completed. The updated FAFSA uses taxes that were filed the previous year and are often available for easy download.

Most aid applicants and their parents will be able to use the FAFSA/IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to automatically view and transfer required tax return information directly from the IRS onto their FAFSA. Using the DRT increases the accuracy of information used to determine aid and can eliminate the burden of providing tax return transcripts to your school for verification of the FAFSA income information.

Pulling completed tax information directly onto the FAFSA makes for a much simpler aid application process for most students and families.

To protect sensitive taxpayer data, the IRS and Federal Student Aid announced in March 2017 the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov will be unavailable until extra security protections can be added. While they are working to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, students and families should plan for the tool to be offline until the start of the next FAFSA season (i.e., October 2017).

Until further notice, families, who have not already used the Data Retrieval Tool on this FAFSA, will need to report tax information from their own copies of tax documents when completing or updating a FAFSA and will need to request tax transcripts from IRS or supply signed copies of the appropriate tax forms if they are selected for verification.

Plan Now to Complete the FAFSA

Alert your parents and plan now to complete the FAFSA as soon after October 1 of each year.

Be the first among your peers to get the FAFSA done and prepare for the upcoming academic year.

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Beginning with the 2017-18 academic year, the FAFSA will now be available online October 1 of each year for completion and submission for the upcoming academic year.

Because some aid programs are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, apply as soon after October 1 of each year as possible for maximum aid consideration. Complete the FAFSA by December 1 for priority consideration for limited funding sources

Be sure to plan now with your parents to take advantage of this new aid filing timeline.

Incoming Freshmen

A complete early action admission application (including transcripts and test scores) must be received by December 1 for scholarship consideration.