Monthly Features

The best news in decades!

With our thanks to the NASFAA, please see the historic news below! As Dave Murray, President of the National Center for College Costs (NCCC) put it, “This is the biggest news I have received in the 16 years the NCCC has existed, perhaps even in my lifetime, when it comes to changing the college access and financial aid paradigm! Imagine that now most high school seniors will have the spring semester to make college decisions, not just the month of April. The colleges can make financial aid awards earlier; the Indiana Commission for Higher Education can make state grant decisions in, say, December or January, instead of June; scholarship providers can make scholarship decisions in the spring semester while students are still making college choice decisions instead of in the summer after students have already made their college choices. Everybody wins!”

Feds Announce Move to Prior-Prior Year Income Data on the FAFSA

In a victory for students and college-access advocates, President Barack Obama today announced that beginning with the 2017-18 school year, prior-prior year (PPY) tax information will be used on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

NASFAA -- along with higher education institutions, policy groups, and lawmakers -- have long advocated for PPY. Using two-years prior tax information on the FAFSA (as opposed to one-year prior information) will increase the form’s accuracy and give families an earlier and more accurate idea of their anticipated financial aid and college costs.

NASFAA has created two explanatory videos to help others understand this important policy change:

  • quick and simple video your office can share to help students and families better understand how PPY will benefit them; and
  • more in-depth video explaining why this move to PPY will not only allow students to have earlier information in order to make enrollment decisions, but will also give financial aid administrators some relief from mounting administrative burden and ensure they have more time to spend counseling students.

With the switch to PPY, students and families will be able to:

  • File the FAFSA earlier. As you know, the FAFSA is made available January 1 of each calendar year, yet it is uncommon for a family or individual to be prepared to file an income tax return in the month of January. Under the new PPY system, the 2017-18 FAFSA will be available in October 2016, rather than January 1, 2017, and students can use the PPY’s completed income tax return.
  • More easily submit a FAFSA. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), which allows automatic population of a student’s FAFSA with tax return data and decreases the need for additional documentation, can be used by millions more students and families under PPY, since tax data from two-years prior would be readily available upon application.
  • Receive earlier notification of financial aid packages. If students apply for aid earlier, colleges can in turn provide financial aid notifications to students earlier, ensuring that students and families have more time to prepare for college costs. Notifying students earlier of their financial aid packages will also leave more time for one-on-one counseling with students and families. 

To maximize the benefits of PPY, NASFAA will be encouraging schools and state grant agencies to also use PPY data on any financial aid application they require. NASFAA urges member institutions to demonstrate support for President Obama’s move to PPY by signing onto a commitment to align their own processes to match the use of PPY on institutional forms.

Moving to PPY has been a fundamental precept of NASFAA’s larger advocacy platform for many years, as it is a single change that will create a ripple of positive implications for students.

NASFAA has already taken actions to begin working with schools, the U.S. Department of Education, state grant agencies, and others to align practices and work toward a smooth transition. Within a few days we will be soliciting volunteers to serve on a PPY Implementation Task Force to work with members in identifying implementation issues, including what processes and procedures throughout the campus will be affected, what consumer information will need to be updated, and how this will affect our financial aid management systems. We are committed to doing all we can to ensure a smooth transition to PPY for schools and students.



Publication Date: September 2015

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