It's FAFSA season – and it's here earlier than you're probably used to.
Students applying for financial aid to help pay for college in the 2017-18 school year can start filling out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) starting Saturday, Oct. 1.
The Oct. 1 filing date is a change from previous years (FAFSA enrollment used to begin January), and this will be the case going forward.
It's important for students to fill out the application as soon as possible. That's because some states and schools have limited funds, and may award money on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to FAFSA.
And getting any extra funds for college is important for many families. According to College Board, the cost to attend a year at a public four-year college is 40 percent higher than it was 10 years ago.
Other changes to this year's FAFSA
There's another change students should be aware of when they begin the application. Students will be required to report tax income information from an earlier tax year – it's called the prior-prior tax year. So for the 2017-18 school year, FAFSA requires tax information from 2015.
This is expected to simplify the process because you've already done your taxes for the year required, and you won't need to estimate your tax information and then go back into FAFSA later and update it, which is what you had to do before, FAFSA says.