Early October is the time families find themselves completing at least one, if not two, financial aid forms for college scholarships. The forms may seem daunting but without them, no aid will be forthcoming.
To apply for federal student aid, you need to complete the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and quick, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school. In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA data to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.
Why should I fill out the FAFSA?
If you don’t fill out the FAFSA, you could be missing out on a lot of financial aid! I’ve heard a number of reasons students think they should not complete the FAFSA. Here are a few:
- “I (or my parents) make too much money, so I won’t qualify for aid.”
- “Only students with good grades get financial aid.”
- “The FAFSA is too hard to fill out.”
- “I’m too old to qualify for financial aid.”
The reality is, EVERYONE should fill out the FAFSA!
When do I fill out the FAFSA?
The FAFSA becomes available in early October each year, and there are different deadlines for different programs.
|Aid Program||Deadline Information|
|Federal student aid||The 2019–20 FAFSA form became available on Oct. 1, 2018. However, there are a few first come, first served federal student aid programs, so be sure to apply as soon as you can.
Before you can apply, the STUDENT and sometimes the PARENT must create their own ID.
Go online at https://blog.ed.gov/2018/09/7-things-you-need-2019-20-fafsa/ to get specific details.
|State student aid||You can find state deadlines at www.fafsa.gov.|
|College (or career school) aid||For student’s applying regular decision, filing deadlines are usually early in the new year (often in February or March). Check the school’s website or contact its financial aid office to verify dates.
Many private colleges require the CSS profile also be completed. Check out what colleges require this form here: https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/
IF YOUR TEEN IS APPLYING EARLY DECISION OR EARLY ACTION, THESE FORMS MAY NEED TO BE SUBMITTED TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO THE PRIORITY DATE. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND CHECKING EACH COLLEGE’S WEBSITE TO VERIFY SUBMISSION DATES.
|Private Aid and Scholarships||Some programs other than government or school aid require that you file the FAFSA. For instance, you can’t get certain private scholarships unless you’re eligible for a Federal Pell Grant—and you can’t find out whether you’re eligible for a Pell Grant unless you file a FAFSA. If the private scholarship’s application deadline is in early to mid-January, you’ll need to submit your FAFSA before that deadline.|
As you can see, it’s a good idea to file the FAFSA as soon as it’s available so you don’t miss out on anything.
You must fill out the FAFSA every year you’re in college in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.