In Fall 2015 the President announced two major changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process. While traditionally the FAFSA filing cycle begins on January 1 of the year preceding the award/academic year (e.g., January 1, 2016, for the 2016-2017 award/academic year), beginning with the 2017–2018 FAFSA cycle, the application will become available to students and their families three months earlier on October 1 (e.g., October 1, 2016, for the 2017-2018 award/academic year).
The second change announced by the President is that, again beginning with the 2017-2018 cycle, the FAFSA will collect income information from the tax/calendar year one year earlier than has been used in the past. Thus for the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students and families will provide income information from calendar year 2015 and not from calendar year 2016. Because of this, almost all tax return filers will be able to electronically transfer their tax information directly into their FAFSA by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).