What is Early FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step to applying for many financial aid opportunities including Federal Student Aid programs such as Federal Pell Grant and Federal Work Programs.  The FAFSA has historically been available on January 1 allowing students to apply for financial aid for the upcoming school year which begins in August.

Now, the FAFSA is known as the Early FAFSA (also referred to as Prior Prior Year FAFSA).  The Early FAFSA simply opens the application date three months earlier on October 1, providing students with an earlier application opportunity.  The income information required is from the most recently completed tax year. 

New Applicants and First Time Students – Financial Aid Dates

With Early FAFSA, the dates for Admission and Financial Aid occur relatively early for the next school year (which starts in August).  More information can be found on the Application Process webpage and the Admissions and Financial Aid Information video.

For quick reference, here are the dates:

                                                                                  Preferred completion dates

FAFSA                                                                    November 15, for December 31 initial admission consideration (for fall classes starting next August)

C of O General Scholarship Application*                February 15, for the fall semester

 *General Scholarship Application will open January 15 and will be available to returning students and new applicants selected for admission.

Current Students – Financial Aid Deadlines

Both FAFSA and scholarship application deadlines will be earlier than in previous years. 

                                                                                  Preferred completion dates

FAFSA                                                                    January 16, for next fall semester

C of O General Scholarship Application*               February 15, for next fall semester

 *General Scholarship Application for the next school year will open January 15.

Additional Resources

For more information regarding the Early FAFSA and related topics, see the hyperlink below.

Early FAFSA information from the U.S. Department of Education

Early FAFSA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some common questions regarding the FAFSA and Early FAFSA. 

Q1. What is the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)?

A1. The DRT is a process which allows you to move tax information to the FAFSA form from your IRS tax file. Doing so provides more accurate data on the FAFSA and reduces the time and documents required to process the financial aid file. Also, see Steps to Transfer Tax Information Into Your FAFSA

Q2. Will updating my FAFSA after I have already had it processed for the year reduce my financial aid?

A2. Your work and tuition scholarship program funding at C of O will not be reduced by using or updating your FAFSA with the DRT since all full time students will receive work and scholarship benefits to cover the Cost of Education (tuition).

Q3. What if I am unable to use the DRT to move tax information due to my filing status or other issues with my tax return?

A3. There are certain instances in which a DRT option will not be availabe.  In such cases, just be certain your tax information is accurate on the FAFSA. 

Q4. How do I access the update FAFSA information using the DRT process? 

A4. A visual guide to assist with the process is found HERE.





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