Great Expectations: Implications of Implementing Prior-Prior Year Income Data for The FAFSA
National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

EWA’s summary of this report:

This report advocates for two changes to how families fill out their FAFSA forms. The first tweak would be to collect family income and asset information from two tax seasons ago. The second change would be to begin the FAFSA process in September rather than at the start of the year. Because many families don’t have their tax filings full up to date in the first few months of the year, their FAFSA information is incomplete, advocates of these changes say. Relying on tax filings from two years ago increases the likelihood families have filed their tax returns (the deadline to file taxes is in mid-April, high season for college financial aid dealings). Moving the FAFSA application start time to the fall would also open up a wider window of time for families to submit the appropriate records, benefiting first-generation college-goers, advocates say. This paper explores to pros and cons of such a move.