The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a federal form for financial aid that is accepted by most schools. The information you provide will be used to figure the amount your family can afford to contribute toward your education (also known as your EFC: estimated family contribution).
The FAFSA for college attendance beginning Fall of 2017 can be filed beginning October 1, 2016, using your 2015 tax year information.
If your financial or living situation has significantly changed since 2015, you will still be required to use your 2015 information, then follow up with a call to each of your colleges' financial aid offices to explain your situation. You will be asked for documentation.
Financial aid deadlines vary by college, but if you file your FAFSA by December you should be in no danger of missing a deadline. If you are unsure, check your college's website.
Fill out the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Families wanting to get a preliminary EFC before they are eligible to fill out the FAFSA can use the FAFSA4caster.