Applying for Aid

A Simplified FAFSA: Prior-Prior Year (PPY)

In September 2015, President Obama announced a new initiative to simplify the financial aid application process for students and families. Historically, students have been able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) beginning January 1, using information from the previous tax year. However, beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, applicants will be required to report income and tax information from two years prior when completing the FAFSA. Additionally, the FAFSA will be available beginning October 1 of every year, three months earlier than the previous availability date of January 1.

The use of tax information from two years prior, commonly referred to as prior-prior year (PPY), has also been adopted by the CollegeBoard, for applicants who will be completing the CSS Profile.

The table below provides a summary of these changes:

Academic Year Required Tax Year Information FAFSA Available CSS Profile Available
2016-2017 2015 January 1, 2016 October 1, 2015
2017-2018 2015 October 1, 2016 October 1, 2016
2018-2019 2016 October 1, 2017 October 1, 2017

What Are the Benefits of Prior-Prior-Year?

  • Students and families will have additional time to meet financial aid application deadlines.
  • Because the FAFSA will ask for older income information, applicants will have their taxes done by the time they complete the FAFSA. As a result, students and families will no longer need to estimate their tax information or update the FAFSA at a later date after filing their taxes with the IRS.
  • More applicants will be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which allows for automatic transfer of completed income and tax information to the FAFSA.

What Can Northeastern Students Expect?

  • Students may submit a FAFSA earlier. Applicants will be able to complete their 2017-2018 FAFSA as early as October 1, 2016. Please note, priority filing deadline dates and award timelines will not change for the 2017-2018 academic year.
  • Applicants will report earlier tax information. On the 2017-2018 FAFSA, students and families will report 2015 income and tax information, rather than 2016 income information. When completing the FAFSA, applicants are encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, if eligible, which not only increases the accuracy of information reported, but also simplifies the process.
  • Priority filing deadline dates will remain the same for 2017-2018. Priority filing deadline dates for the FAFSA and CSS Profile will not change for the 2017-2018 academic year. Below are the priority filing deadline dates for Undergraduate Day students.


Student Type Required Application(s) Priority Filing Deadline
First-Year Applicants FAFSA and CSS Profile Early Decision: Complete the CSS Profile by November 15 and FAFSA by February 15

Early Action: Complete the CSS Profile by December 1 and FAFSA by February 15

Regular Decision: Complete the CSS Profile and FAFSA by February 15

Fall Transfer Applicants FAFSA and CSS Profile May 1
Spring Transfer Applicants FAFSA and CSS Profile October 15
Returning Students FAFSA April 1
Gl-Huq Elizabeth Lally

*Students seeking federal student aid only are not required to complete the College Scholarship Service’s (CSS) Profile Form.

Learn More About the Financial Aid Application Process

Additional Resources

*These changes will not affect the current 2016-2017 academic year and will be effective as of the 2017-2018 academic year. 

**The CSS Profile is required for first-year, Undergraduate Day applicants only who wish to be considered for need-based institutional aid. Returning Undergraduate Day students who are renewing their financial aid are required to complete the FAFSA only.