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If you are filing a 2008 income tax return, we recommend that you complete your tax return before filling out the 2009-2010 FAFSA. Note that you do not have to actually send your tax return to the IRS before filling out the FAFSA. You can submit your FAFSA using estimated income and tax information. However, after you file your tax return you must correct any income or tax information that is different from what you submitted on your original FAFSA.
If you do your fafsa on January 1st, you almost guarantee you'll be selected for verification (because FAFSA knows you don't have your taxes done) and being selected for verification can sometimes delay your aid even more (depending on how quickly you can gather all the documents they want).
Remember, NO school is going to create a financial aid "Award Letter" for you based on information you submit on January 1st because they know your information is estimated (AKA WRONG!) as well. Again, no school is going to issue you an award letter based on information you submit on January 1st. They will wait until you get through all the corrections before anything is calculated. FAFSA doesn't want to know you made around 12,000 last year. They want to know you made 12,531 dollars exactly. Anything else you submit is wrong.
Best to do it right ONCE and correct the first time than 3 or 4 times when you can't figure out how to do the corrections and you get selected for verification.