The new 2018-2019 FAFSA is here! So, what does that mean for your early action applications? Submitting the FAFSA earlier means you’ll have more time to make an informed college choice.

FAFSA and early action applications

1. You can submit the FAFSA asap

Beginning in 2017, the government now releases the FAFSA every year on October 1st (versus January 1st in previous years). This earlier release date means that you can also submit the FAFSA earlier, too! We recommend that you submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1.

Read more about the 2017 FAFSA changes.

2. Calculate out-of-pocket costs

The government uses the information on the FAFSA to determine your Estimated Family Contribution—or EFC. This dollar amount is an estimate of what you can afford to pay for college. Schools use the EFC to put together your financial aid packages. The bottom line is the sooner you submit your FAFSA, the sooner you can calculate your EFC.

3. Start weighing your financial aid options

While you won’t necessarily receive financial aid packages earlier from your early action schools, you WILL have a clearer picture of what your estimated costs might be before you commit. Compare your EFC with your dream school’s cost of attendance to determine how much financial aid you’ll need.

4. What happens next?

Visit to start filling out your FAFSA online. You’ll need your parents’ most recent federal income tax returns and W-2s, so let them know that you are starting the application. To prepare, you can also create an Federal Student Aid ID (create an FSA ID here), which you’ll use to sign your online application.

Learn more about paying for college and get our expert tips on how to finance your education.

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