The FAFSA and DREAM Act application are now available beginning October 1, 2016 for the 2017-2018 school year.

In October 2015, President Barack Obama announced the Federal Student Aid division of the U.S. Department of Education would begin making the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) available to all students and families on  October 1. With this change, students and families will also begin using “prior-prior year” income on the FAFSA.

Please review the below resources for more information about this change. Below, we will break down what Early FAFSA means and what it means to use “prior-prior year” tax information.

For the 2017-2018 school year, USF students should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1, 2016.

For California DREAM Act students, the DREAM Act application will also be available beginning October 1, 2016.

What Does "Prior-Prior Year" Income Mean?

The FAFSA, DREAM application. and CSS Profile will now begin to review student and/or family tax data two years back rather than just one. This means when completing the 2017-2018 aid applications, students and families will use their 2015 IRS tax data.

See the chart below for more information about the appropriate application to complete and tax year to use.

When a Student is Attending College (School Year)When a Student Can Submit a FAFSA/DREAM/CSS ProfileWhich Year’s Income and Tax Information Is Required
July 1, 2015–June 30, 2016January 1, 2015–June 30, 20162014
July 1, 2016–June 30, 2017January 1, 2016–June 30, 20172015
July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018October 1, 2016–June 30, 20182015
July 1, 2018–June 30, 2019October 1, 2017–June 30, 20192016

Benefits of Early FAFSA

  • Because the FAFSA and DREAM application will ask for older income and tax information, you will be using completed tax returns, eliminating the need to estimate income.
  • Because you’ll already have done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically import your tax information into your FAFSA (not applicable on the DREAM application). We highly recommend that students and families use this tool when completing the FAFSA.
  • Because the FAFSA or DREAM application is available earlier, you may feel less pressure due to having more time to complete the FAFSA and meet the priority deadline for USF and Cal Grant.
  • Check out this video to find out more about how "prior-prior year" helps students and families.
  • Deadlines

    Continuing USF Students: The USF priority deadline for the 2017-2018 FAFSA (or DREAM Act) is February 1, 2017. Any application received after March 2, 2017 cannot be guaranteed timely processing prior to student bills. 

    First-Year Freshmen Students: The FAFSA (or DREAM Act) and CSS Profile are due on February 15, 2017. See more information about freshmen deadlines and how to apply here.

    New Transfer Students: The USF priority deadline for the 2017-2018 FAFSA (or DREAM Act) is March 1, 2017.