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Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Questions

The FAFSA is an acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a financial aid form used to determine your eligibility for financial aid from the Federal Government. This includes grants, loans and work-study. Also, the form is used by many states, colleges and universities to determine eligibility for their financial aid programs. The FAFSA is completed annually. Get started at

IRS tax return transcripts are the official transcripts of your tax return.  We cannot accept a copy of your tax return because it does not prove that you have filed your taxes.

You can get your tax return transcripts at You may order them by mail or create an account to access them immediately.

The FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. This includes Federal Pell Grant, Federal student loans and work-study opportunities. In addition, the FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for nonfederal student aid and various scholarships offered by your state and the university, as well as many tuition credits. You should file a renewal FAFSA each year before the priority filing date. Get started at

The priority deadline to file your FAFSA is March 1.  You must submit a FAFSA every year to be considered for financial aid.

Prior Year refers to the tax year used for the FAFSA. This allows students to submit their FAFSA in October by using tax information from the year prior to their enrollment. For example, a student enrolling in fall 2021 will submit the FAFSA using 2019 tax information. In the past, the student had the added challenge of estimating tax information so that the form could be submitted by school’s deadlines. With Prior Year, there is no need to estimate, you can use your already filed tax return.

You will have the opportunity to request a review of the change to your financial situation. We refer to this as a special circumstance review.

It will be one less thing on your list of things to do. It will also give you an opportunity to correct any errors and submit additional documents that might be needed. Applying early may give you the information you need to make informed decisions about financial planning and college selection.

It is always a good idea to get the FAFSA submitted as soon as possible. It gives you an opportunity to correct any errors and respond to any document requests, if there are any. Also, you don’t know what you may qualify for so let the school review your information to determine your eligibility.

Filing the FAFSA late may impact the amount of financial aid available. Some financial aid funding is limited, so the earlier you apply the more likely awards will be available if you qualify. But it is better to file it late than not at all.

The Admissions Office will use the information you provided through the application process to determine your eligibility for UMass Admissions scholarships, or merit aid. There are a few scholarships available to transfer students that will require a separate application. See our Scholarships page for information about other scholarship resources and how to apply.

There are several factors in determining financial aid awards that may not be available in time to send the award with your acceptance letter. We are working on gather all the necessary information so that your award can be mailed out as quickly as possible. As soon as information is available we will update the financial aid office homepage with our projected date to begin awarding. Students who are returning for a subsequent year will continue to receive their award letters in the summer months. This is because their academic progress must be reviewed by Financial Aid Services before awards can be made.

YES! You must use 2019 tax and income information when filing your 2021-2022 FAFSA.

No. The Department of Education has determined which year’s tax information is provided for each academic year.

Any time that a family’s financial situation has changed from the base year information provided on the FAFSA, you can submit an appeal. We recommend contacting the financial aid office about the appeal prior to submitting it.

Federal regulations require Financial Aid Services to apply a formula established by the U.S. Department of Education to determine the amount of federal financial aid a student has earned as of the date in the student last attended classes.

The amount of federal financial aid returned to federal aid programs is determined by the amount of time the student spent in academic attendance, but has no relationship to the institutional charges incurred by the student.

After 60% of the semester has passed, the student has earned 100% of the federal financial aid awarded to them. For students receiving state financial aid, a state refund calculation will be completed. The state refund calculation takes into consideration the amount the student owes and the amount of federal aid for which the student may remain eligible.

Yes! Using prior year taxes means that almost all families will have filed taxes when the FAFSA becomes available.

If your family has experienced unemployment, divorce, a reduction in income for other reasons, or if other special circumstances exist contact the Financial Aid Office. The staff will work with your to document the changes to your family income situation and make changes to your FAFSA if necessary.