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FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Prior-Prior Year (beginning 2016 for aid applications for the 2017-18 award year) 

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Visit our sister association NASFAA and review their PPY Toolkit.


Prior-Prior Year (PPY) refers to a policy enabling students and families to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using tax information from two years ago. For example, a high school senior planning to enroll in college in Fall 2017 will file FAFSA using taxes from 2015.

PPY debuts in October 2016, for aid applications for the 2017-18 award year. This means that the high school class of 2017 will be the first high school cohort to use the PPY FAFSA, and all returning college students in that same year will also use it.

​New: Review a Department of Education PowerPoint on the 2017-18 FAFSA​ and visit their 2017-18 FAFSA Changes website​, with FAQs, fact sheets, and more geared toward school counselors. Many other Department resources are located on the sidebar to the right.

​For Financial Aid Professionals: The Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) Early FAFSA webpage has been updated with FAQs​.

Prior-Year (for award years 2015-16 and 2016-17)

Under PY, when students and their families file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), they must complete the form using tax information from the prior year. For example, a high school senior planning to enroll in college in Fall 2016 must file FAFSA using her family's 2015 tax information. The current FAFSA does not become available until January 1, and many families are not able to complete it until closer to April, when federal taxes are due for most filers. The PY FAFSA schedule does not align with the college admission calendar and serves as a deterrent for some students who would otherwise pursue higher education. 

Side-By-Side Comparison

Imagine you are a high school senior planning your college and financial aid application process. Here is how PY and PPY compare:

​Prior-Year (PY)

Prior-Prior Year (PPY)

  • ​Available January 1 of Spring semester
  • Use taxes from previous year, which are not due to the IRS until April (for most filers)
  • Requires many filers to estimate taxes early in the process, only to have to correct their data after submitting their final tax information to the IRS
  • Poorly aligned with the college application calendar
  • Creates obstacles for meeting priority filing deadlines, which must be met to qualify for some forms of institutional, state, or federal aid 
  • Could potentially not have financial aid eligibility information until near the college decision deadline, resulting in stressful and less informed enrollment choices
  • ​​Available in October of Fall semester
  • Use taxes from two years ago, which have already been submitted to the IRS last year
  • Enables more filers to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to easily import verified IRS tax returns, reducing the need to later amend the forms
  • Will substantially sync the college application and financial aid application calendars​
  • Removes barriers created by priority filing deadlines, ensuring students have equal opportunity to be considered for all available funds
  • Likely will receive financial aid eligibility information in advance of college decision deadline, encouraging more thoughtful​ and informed enrollment decisions