Financial Answer Center
For an initial grant of financial aid, your family income is calculated during the "base year," defined as the full calendar year beginning two years before high school graduation—that is, the last half of sophomore year and first half of junior year. It is in your interest to do what you can to minimize your family income during the base year.
Be sure to roll over any retirement plan or IRA distributions you receive, to minimize your income. Retirement plan monies do not count as assets when applying for federal financial aid.