The fall is one of the busiest times of year for high school seniors who are applying to college. There’s normal school work and extracurriculars, as well as the various deadlines for applications and financial aid. It’s a lot for any student to keep track of. Yet, it’s important to track the deadlines so that you have the best chance of getting your financial aid application in – and then, the best chance of getting the maximum aid available to you. With that in mind, here’s a few deadlines to track for your financial aid and college applications.
College Admissions Deadlines
There are generally a few types of college admissions deadlines:
Early decision is important for students who have their heart set on one specific college. Students who receive early decision approval agree to attend that college. Early decision deadlines can be as soon as November 1, so most students should be well on their way to having their application submitted. For most colleges, students who apply early may hear back from schools by mid-December, which means that you might have your plans finalized by the new year (which is so exciting!).
These acceptances have a little more flexibility. The student gets an earlier response, but is not obligated to commit to that college. Again, these deadlines can be as early as November 1, but there is more opportunity to choose between colleges once you receive responses from each.
Regular admission deadlines are usually the latest, sometime in late December or early January. Many colleges will have filled a significant portion of their class by then, so that’s just something to keep in mind. It is better to apply for an early action or early decision at a school, if you have your list finalized.
Some colleges are flexible about their admissions deadlines, but here again the advantage goes to the early applicants. Rolling admissions are a great way to apply to a school if it’s lower on your list and you’re waiting for other decisions.
Financial Aid Deadlines
There are many forms of financial aid which can supply funds to help pay for college. This can come from federal, state and institutional resources. Access usually begins with filing a FAFSA.
Each college sets its own deadline for financial aid applications. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: check your preferred college and their deadlines. Students may find that they need to submit their financial aid applications as early as November.
Many states have their own forms of financial aid for in-state institutions. While most use the FAFSA (which comes live in December), some states do have separate applications. Although timeframes differ, the general recommendation is that you should file as soon as possible after October 1.
Technically you do have until June 30 to submit the FAFSA, but many financial aid funds could be deleted by then. It is best to file as early as possible, which will be in December for the 2024-2025 application cycle.
Some scholarships come from your college, and are awarded based on your FAFSA information. There are also private scholarships which can provide additional money for your education.
Scholarships are often based on your personal qualities and abilities. Every scholarship has different rules and different deadlines. Some can be as early as November or December, while some want only applicants who are already in college. The great news is that there is no limit to the amount of scholarships you could receive.
The best approach for any deadline is to aim to submit your information before it is due. Last minute scrambles can lead to mistakes and could even cause you to miss out because of silly errors. The earlier you submit your paperwork, the better chance you have at receiving the maximum aid possible – and feeling less stressed about your college application journey.
Working with Jodi
Jodi helps with the financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. Schedule a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college.