If you submitted a FAFSA during the previous award year, and you're eligible to complete a Renewal FAFSA, you may have most of the questions prefilled with the information you previously provided. All you have to do is review the application and update any information for the new school year.
However, any financial or tax-related questions will need to be filled out each year. FAFSA doesn't prefill this part of the application.
You also have the option of using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to help transfer data about income from your federal income tax returns. This can also be a huge time saver.
If your financial or household situation has changed, your FAFSA eligibility may have also changed. Changes to either your household or income can decrease your EFC or Expected Family Contribution. Which means you'd be more likely to qualify for some aid.
For example, if there are more family members in your household attending college now, you may see an increase in money on your award letter. Or, if your income went down or you or a parent/guardian lost their job or had a serious illness that resulted in loss of income, that could increase your eligibility for aid in the next school year.
Financial reasons aren't the only reason to resubmit a FAFSA each year. Many private scholarships, as well as state and school-based aid requires you to complete the FAFSA.
Carol Katarsky is a contributing writer for Nitro. She is an award-winning journalist with extensive experience writing about both finance and education. Her corporate and non-profit clients include AIG, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Project Management Institute. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, son, and one cat more than she should. Read more by Carol Katarsky