When should you file your FAFSA?

First, 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 both Federal and State aid. It will generate a number called your Estimated 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. Two years ago some changes were made to the FAFSA which have been referred to as “prior-prior”.

So what does prior-prior mean? All it means is that you will be able to file your FAFSA starting on October 1, 2018. 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 because you will be able to file your 2019 FAFSA using your 2017 (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 2017 you will be able to file a special circumstances form with our Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) 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, our priority deadline is March 15, 2019. We encourage all students to file their FAFSA by our priority deadline as there are more funds available if you file prior to March 15.

OSFA will begin to send out financial aid packages around mid-February. But 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)!



Transfer Recruitment Coordinator, Undergraduate Admissions
I help transfer students navigate our application and admission process. I have a background not only in admissions but also in financial aid. I'm originally from southeastern Michigan.