Prior-Prior Year Income Data for the FAFSA

Beginning in October 2016 (for aid applications for the 2017-18 award year), the White House will allow students to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using prior-prior year (PPY) tax data. Until the change is implemented, aid applications will continue to use prior-year (PY) tax data.​
 
Fact Sheets:

 

Update 12/07/15: The College Board has announced that it will be adopting PPY data for the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.​​​​​​
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 What Is Prior-Prior Year (PPY)?

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

Need In-Depth Financial Aid Information?
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 
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 What Is NACAC's Position on PPY?

 
​​​NACAC has been a long-standing supporter of PPY. We believe that PPY will address many of the systemic obstacles that deter under-represented and low-income students from pursuing higher education. By adopting PPY, the White House will help millions of students know their financial aid eligibility early in the college admission process. In turn, this knowledge will encourage thoughtful, informed discussions and decisions about postsecondary plans.

NACAC's Admission Practices Committee​ has already been considering the potential ramifications of PPY on the admission process. NACAC remains committed to maintaining high professional standards school counseling and college admissions in order to protect students and institutions from unethical practices. The Admission Practices Committee is monitoring our professional standards and practices to ensure that we continue to adhere to these values.

​New: NACAC, AACRAO, NCAN, NASFAA, NASSGAP, and The College Board issued a joint statement in December, 2015, expressing support for PPY and urging members to continue keeping students' best interests at heart throughout the transition process.

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If you missed the educational session on PPY at NACAC's Annual Conference in San Diego in October 2015, you can view the PowerPoint​ here

Abbreviated Session Description: Attendees at this session will learn more about the change to using tax data from the prior-prior tax year to complete the FAFSA, and about the likely implications for school counselors and college admission officers. Panelists will explore ways in which institutions, as well as, professional associations, will need to prepare for the effects of this policy change.​

 

 Department of Education Resources