Columbia Financial Aid and Educational Financing

Financial Aid FAQs: New for 2017-2018

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We want to make you aware of several upcoming changes to the financial aid application process and some actions you can take now to make the process smoother and easier.

1. What changes have been put into effect for the 2017-2018 financial aid process?

  • On September 13, 2015, President Obama signed an executive order that will allow families to complete the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using income information from the 2015 federal tax return, the same income information that you and your parent(s) reported when filing the 2016-17 FAFSA. As result, the 2017-18 FAFSA may be filed as early as October 1, 2016. This new feature will allow students and parents to report final, accurate income information on the FAFSA as the vast majority of families will have already completed their 2015 taxes by October 2016.

2. Which tax year will impact my financial aid eligibility each year?

  • The Department of Education announced last Fall that beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, the FAFSA would be available as early as October 1 and that an earlier year of tax information would be requested in order to make the process more convenient for families.

Enrollment Year

Application Deadline

Forms to fill out

Federal Taxes to Submit

2016-2017

Previous Year

05/05/2016

2016-2017 FAFSA & CSS Profile

2015

2017-2018

Current Year

Implementation of Early FAFSA and New Financial Aid Process

05/05/2017

2017-2018 FAFSA & CSS Profile

2015

2018-2019

05/05/2018

2018-2019 FAFSA & CSS Profile

2016

2019-2020

05/05/2019

2019-2020 FAFSA & CSS Profile

2017

2020-2021

05/05/2020

2020-2021 FAFSA & CSS Profile

2018

3. You already have my 2015 taxes on file; do I need to resubmit?

  • Yes, we will require you to re-submit your 2015 tax documents via IDOC when you submit the 2017-2018 FAFSA and CSS Profile by May 5th, 2017. For auditing purposes, we are required to keep a separate financial aid file for each academic year.

4. Will my Net Cost be the same for 2017-2018 as it is for 2016-2017?

  • It will probably not be exactly the same, but if your financial circumstances have not changed significantly, then your Net Cost may be similar. The amounts for Student Contribution and Student Employment do increase slightly each year. Also, while your Parent Contribution will be based in part on the same 2015 tax documents for 2017-2018, there are changes in our mathematical formulas and in how we finalize our calculations each year. We annually adjust our evaluation of your need-based eligibility, based on a detailed analysis of national data, as well as changes in your family’s financial circumstances (income, assets and allowable expenses).

5. What should I do if I experience a change in income that is not reflected on the 2015 taxes?

  • Your initial 2017-2018 eligibility letter will be based on your family’s 2015 tax information; if you have experienced or expect a significant financial change, please provide further details (timeline, amounts) in the “Explanations/Special Circumstances” section of the CSS Profile/Noncustodial Profile form.
  • You can submit a request to have your financial aid eligibility adjusted for one of the following reasons:
    • Your family’s financial circumstances have changed since you originally submitted the financial aid application.
    • Your family’s financial circumstances are complex in nature, and you would like us to reconsider the file with new information or clarification not previously submitted.
    • Since each family’s special circumstances are different, and can be sensitive in nature, we recommend that you contact our office and speak with a financial aid officer prior to submitting a request. Requests for reconsideration may also be submitted via e-mail to ugrad-finaid@columbia.edu.