New Year’s Day is typically a day to catch up on sleep after staying up too late to celebrate the night before, and if you’re a college student, Jan. 1 has an additional task: filing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

However, President Barack Obama announced last September that the FAFSA is changing. Beginning on Oct. 1, 2016, students may begin filling out their applications for the 2017-2018 academic year using their 2015 IRS Income Tax information.

“Other than the date that students can begin filling things out, nothing else about the application is changing,” said Lisa Bell, assistant director of the Office of Financial Aid.

Bell believes this change is a positive one.

“This will give students three additional months to fill out their applications,” she said.

With the extra time, the financial aid office hopes that students will fill their applications out much earlier, so in return, students won’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay for school.

If more students fill out their applications on time and meet all of the satisfied requirements by specific due dates, chaotic financial aid office lines should become calmer.

“I think it will help with the chaos some,” Bell said. “This change also gives us more time to process information and to work with students.”

Bell also said that, as always, students who fill out their FAFSA as soon as possible will start getting award letters in March.

“Applying early is important, but so is following up,” she said. “Following up is one of the main things that helps students when they’re applying for financial aid. They can follow up by reading their ETSU email, checking that financial aid status on Goldlink, turning in anything they need to turn in promptly and not waiting and just checking it every week to make sure everything is in by March.”

Although students can continue to fill out their FAFSA information through August, ETSU’s preferred priority deadline is April 15, 2017.

Students and parents are encouraged to attend the Tri-Cities Financial Aid Night on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. in the Martha Street Culp Auditorium to learn more about federal aid, deadlines, the FAFSA and scholarships.

The ETSU Office of Financial Aid can be reached at 439-4300 or More information can also be found on their website at