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Do Yourself A FAFSA

FAFSA: Earlier and Easier

Completing the FAFSA may be the most dreaded part of applying for college. Some changes in the process are going to make it easier for parents and students to submit the FAFSA and provide accurate information.

Thanks to the new Prior-Prior Year policy (PPY), beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, students will no longer need to wait until January to begin the FAFSA process.

That’s because they’ll be able to file the FAFSA using tax information from two years prior. For example:

  • If your child enters college in 2016 you will use 2015 income tax information.
  • If your child enters college in 2017 you will use 2015 income as well.
  • If your child enters college in 2018 you will use 2016 income tax information, and the process rolls forward each year for future years – 2019 will use 2017 return information.


The connection to the IRS Data Retrieval Process has been disabled by the IRS for the foreseeable future. This means that you will have to manually enter your financial information for 2017-2018 using your 2015 Federal Tax Return.

You should gather your information before you begin completing your FAFSA.

With the new rules and timeline virtually all families will have access to the IRS data directly through the data retrieval tool (DRT) system as soon as the FAFSA becomes available in 2016. Which should both drastically cut down the time it takes to finish the initial FAFSA and just outright make it easier to complete the process.

The new dates mean that the 2015 tax year will now count twice for financial aid purposes (2016-2017 under the current prior-year rules, and again in 2017-2018 under the new PPY rules!). And in the future, the new prior-prior year rules mean the “key” years of income for college financial aid now start as early as the student’s rising sophomore year of high school… but notably end mid-way through the student’s sophomore year of college!

Submitting the FAFSA earlier will provide information needed for an award to be made, but depending on the type of aid you receive and the policies of the college your award may not be issued sooner.

You are encouraged to file your FAFSA as early as possible to allow Stevenson to allocate available aid as effectively as possible.


What is the FAFSA?

FAFSA stands for The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which could allow you to receive Federal, State, and Institutional (University) Financial Aid. Students must apply for FAFSA annually.

When can the FAFSA be filed?
You can start filing the FAFSA on October 1, 2016 for the 2017-2018 academic year. February 15th is Stevenson’s deadline to submit the FAFSA for maximum consideration for funding from all sources. The Maryland State deadline is March 1, 2017.

Where can I file the FAFSA?
You can file a FAFSA online at
For more information and help completing your FAFSA, contact Stevenson University's Financial Aid Office at  or by calling 443-334-3200.

Who should file the FAFSA?
All students are encouraged to apply including prospective, new, returning, undergraduate, and graduate students. Dependent students will use parent information to complete the FAFSA, and the parent will be required to sign the document upon completion.

Why should the FAFSA be filed?
In order to be eligible for any of these types of financial aid, FAFSA needs to be submitted annually or once a year. Federal aid includes grants, loans, and work-study while State aid includes grant and legislative scholarships.

Here are a few resources to help with filing your FAFSA application.

  1. General information from Department of Education:
  2. Apply in advance for a Federal Student Aid ID to use to sign the online application at :
  3. Keep in mind that 2016-2017 FAFSA is based off of 2015 tax information. It is okay to estimate with 2014 tax info and then go back later and update with IRS Data Retrieval after taxes filed.

Get Started

Need Help?

There are a lot of questions you’ll need to answer when filling out your FAFSA. Check out our videos for a better understanding of the process.
Learn More