Financial Aid: Priority Filing Questions Answered

On January 1 the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2016-2017 academic year will be available to complete online at

Students, both returning and prospective, who wish to apply for financial aid will want to submit the FAFSA by George Mason University’s priority filing date of March 1.  It is never too early to start this process by having conversations with your student over winter break.  It is important for students and families to ensure they are completing the FAFSA accurately and on time.  See below for more information on the priority filing deadline and resources designed to guide students and families through the filing process.

What is a priority filing date?
Due to the increasing number of financial aid applicants at George Mason University, combined with a limited amount of state and institutional aid available, the priority filing date is used to determine who will be considered eligible to receive such awards.  To ensure that your student is considered for these types of aid, please encourage your student to submit their FAFSA prior to the March 1 deadline.

The FAFSA requests completed tax information.  What if my student has not yet not yet filed his or her taxes?
On the FAFSA application there is an option to choose “will file”.  Both students and parent(s) can enter estimated income information into the FAFSA to submit the application in a timely manner.  Each year, in order to meet the priority deadline, a number of our applicants choose this method to ensure that the FAFSA is submitted before this deadline.  Once you and your student have completed and filed taxes, both of you will need to go online and make corrections by using the IRS Data Retrieval process within the FAFSA. The IRS Data Retrieval process will import tax information directly into the FAFSA in order to ensure an accurate financial aid package based on actual income and data.

What if my student needs help completing the FAFSA?
There are many tools available to assist both students and families with completing the FAFSA. For example, on Mason’s Office of Student Financial Aid website there are videos with step-by-step instructions to assist with the process.  Also, you can visit the Federal Student Aid website for more helpful information to assist your student when completing the FAFSA.

Dan Frank
Financial Aid Counselor
Student Financial Aid