The FAFSA – a seemingly never-ending form that seems to pry into every detail of your family’s financial history and circumstances. But if you want financial aid to help you through college, it’s the price you have to pay.
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
April 02, 2014
Just like the form, however, the deadlines for the FAFSA can be a confusing matter as well. Every student needs to be aware of the three different deadlines they must meet, each of which plays some significance in how much and from which source financial aid is received.
First, there is the school deadline. Colleges and universities are able to offer financial aid, but they require the information from the FAFSA in order to do so. Each state also has a FAFSA deadline that students must meet in order to receive financial aid from the state. The school and state deadlines typically fall in February, March or even early April, and that’s why it’s best to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1.
If, however, you miss these deadlines, it’s not too late to qualify for financial aid. The federal deadline falls on June 30, meaning that if you submit the form before that date, you’ll be eligible to receive federal financial aid.
Now, let’s take a moment to clarify. You do not have to submit the FAFSA three different times; you only have to send it once. A great rule of thumb in determining when to send is to research the state as well as each of the schools you are applying to. Whichever date falls first on the calendar, that’s when you should submit the form. That way, you’ll be covered on all fronts.
But back to the federal deadline. If you’re hoping to meet the June 30 FAFSA deadline, it’s important to start the process now. First, gather everything you need to complete the FAFSA. Secondly, fill out the form very carefully in order to avoid FAFSA mistakes that can cost you. Third, talk to your school’s financial aid office once your FAFSA has been submitted. Let them know you’ve completed the form, and talk to them about how the results will impact how you pay for school as well as next steps.
Finally, it’s vital to the continuance of you receiving financial aid to submit the FAFSA every year while you are in school. If you just barely meet the June 30 deadline this year, keep that in mind next year and make it a goal to complete the form as soon as possible after January 1.
Also, if filling out the form this year yielded no financial aid for you this year, don’t let that deter you from submitting the FAFSA again the following year. Changes in your family’s circumstances or finances can have a big impact on your aid eligibility. For instance, if a sibling begins attending college at the same time, you could be eligible for more aid.
Filling out the FAFSA isn’t the most exciting component of the college search, but it’s the most necessary. Don’t forget to submit your FAFSA by the federal deadline this year – June 30.