Students, parents: 2017-18 FAFSA can be filed starting Oct. 1

Please be aware that anyone who will be attending college in the 2017-18 school year will be able to file their FAFSA -- Free Application for Federal Student Aid -- beginning Oct. 1. Previously, the applications were not available until Jan. 1 of the school year.

This is an important change, as the FAFSA must be filed each year for any college student who wishes to be considered for state or federal grants.

Along with the date change, families will use their previous tax year information, instead of the tax information that would be filed by April of the school year.

Both of these changes will make it easier to file the necessary application in a timelier manner and will better coincide with the actual college application process for incoming students.

More information about paying for college is available at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency website, www.pheaa.org.

And remember, the first word in FAFSA is FREE, so there is no need to pay anyone to file the application on your behalf.