Prior-Prior: What It Means and How It Impacts You

Let’s start by talking about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA. What is it? What does it do? The FAFSA is what qualifies you for federal, state, and institutional aid. It will generate a number called your Expected Family Contribution, or your EFC, which is the amount of money you are expected to contribute to the price of your college education for that academic year.

You must file the FAFSA every year that you would like to receive financial aid. For the 2017-2018 academic year, some changes have been made to the FAFSA that have been referred to as “early FAFSA” and “prior-prior year.”

So what does early FAFSA mean? All it means is that you will be able to file your FAFSA starting on October 1, 2016. In previous years, the FAFSA opened on January 1, but now, in order to better align with the college application process, you will be able to file your FAFSA earlier. It’s called prior-prior year because you will be able to file your 2017-18 FAFSA using your 2015 (the prior-prior year) tax information.

If there have been any changes to you or your family’s financial situation (loss of job, change in income, medical bills, etc.) between now and 2015, you will be able to file a special circumstances form with our Office of Student Financial Aid in order to alert them to these changes. From there, they will do their best to adjust your financial aid package accordingly.

As far as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is concerned, we encourage all students to file their FAFSA as soon as possible and by November 30, 2016 to ensure full consideration for all financial aid programs.

Financial aid award packages will begin to be sent out in February 2017. If you would like to have a better idea of what your estimated cost of attendance will be, feel free to check out our Financial Aid Award Estimator.

If you have any questions regarding prior-prior or the FAFSA, don’t be confused (like this cat)!


Please feel free to either contact the Office of Student Financial Aid or leave a comment below, and I will do my best to answer your question!


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