So you think life in high school is already complicated enough? You’ve managed to juggle your academics, activities and social life pretty well so far, but now as a senior you’re faced with the unrelenting march of time when it comes to applying to college and getting the financial aid to pay for it all.
There might suddenly be more deadlines looming on the horizon than you have ever seen in your life. Between applying to college, completing the FAFSA, and searching for college scholarships, your calendar has become a jumble of deadlines, circles, stars, and post-it notes.
It can be overwhelming but students all over the United States are dealing with the exact same issues as you are. Somehow you will all manage to make it through. There are several types of financial aid available at the federal, state and institutional levels but the key to it all very often starts with filling out the FAFSA. Certain forms of financial aid have limited funding available so it is best to complete this task as early as you can. Here are the financial aid deadlines you need to know for finding the money you will need to pay for college:
• Federal Student Aid Deadlines: Federal student financial aid can take the form of grants, work-study jobs and student loans. The FAFSA for the 2020-2021 academic year will be available beginning October 1, 2019. You will need an FSA ID username and password to log in to the FAFSA website. Although the FAFSA itself will actually be available through the end of the 2020–21 school year, you still want to fill it out early so you will know what your financial aid offer is from each potential college. It is also very important for you to realize that there may be earlier deadlines from your state and potential colleges that also rely on data obtained through the FAFSA.
• College Student Aid Deadlines: This is a very key deadline to know if you are hoping to score some type of scholarship or grant from your college based on financial need. You want to have your admissions acceptances and financial aid packages together as soon as possible so that you can make your final choice based on all the available information. Don’t be surprised to find out that your college might have a very early financial aid application deadline. They are dealing with thousands of applicants and want to have plenty of time to finalize their offers. Check each college’s website for their specific deadline. If there is a college you are only thinking about at this point, list it on the FAFSA as well so it will have your information if you do decide to apply.
• State Financial Aid Deadlines: Most states have some type of financial aid available to help their residents obtain a higher education. This can really help if you are planning to attend college in your state. Federal Student Aid has a convenient page where you can enter your state of legal residence and the school year for which you are applying for student aid, and click to view individual state deadlines. Many want the application completed as soon as possible after October 1.
Spend the time needed to check out each individual college, state and scholarship website to make sure you completely understand their financial aid requirements. While most will indeed rely on the FAFSA, some may require you to complete the CSS Profile and others might have their own financial aid application form. You might need to complete this information as well as the FAFSA in order to qualify for every available type of aid.
You can file an electronic FAFSA at the official www.fafsa.gov website, or use the new myStudentAid mobile app. The app is available from both the Apple App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android). You can download a copy of the FAFSA form at https://studentaid.ed.gov or call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 334-523-2691 (TTY for the deaf or hard of hearing 1-800-730-8913) to request a copy in English, Spanish, or Braille. Get organized and start applying!