Each year in order to qualify for scholarships, federal student loans, grants, and federal work-study, you have to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, the deadlines vary for federal, institutional, and state aid. You need to remember the two most important dates which are June 30 and Oct 1st.
Learning About Financial Aid Deadlines
- FAFSA Deadlines. The FASFA opens on Oct 1 every year. You should file FASFA as close to Oct 1 as possible for it will improve the chances of you qualifying for the most work-study aid, scholarships, and grants. The applications of each academic year are received on Oct 1 of the prior year. Meaning if you are to file FASFA for 2020-2021 then you should file your application by Oct 1, 2019.
- State and institutional FAFSA deadlines. Individual colleges and states set their own FASFA deadlines which are mostly much earlier than the federal deadline. You need to file your application by these deadlines to qualify for institutional and state scholarships and grants. If you decide to attend an out-of-state school then you might not be eligible for state aid. Hence, you should check with your state whether you are eligible or not. You can find your state financial aid deadline on the website of Federal Student Aid.
- Federal FAFSA deadline. Your last chance to submit FASFA each year is the federal deadline. You can submit the form until June 30, 2020, if you need financial aid for the 2019-20 school year. Institutional aid and work-study programs are most sought after but there will still be enough time to qualify for student loans and federal grants. Even if you file by June 30, you will still be able to receive these loans and grants for covering the amount you have paid for the fall and spring semester. You can also apply these funds to pay for the 2020 summer school. This option, however, depends on your school and the eligibility criteria are different for each school.
What should I do next?
- Track colleges’ financial aid deadlines. Priority deadlines at individual schools often fall the earliest, so those deadlines are the most important to track. These dates are also the best chance of receiving the most aid. You should search for the deadlines for all the colleges you are applying and note them down in one place. You should use a dedicated notebook, a spreadsheet, or your phone’s calendar for your college search.
- Submit any other financial aid applications. Most colleges require alternative or additional financial aid applications like a CSS profile, to be eligible for institutional or state aid. If you want to be considered for aid then you will have to submit all the paperwork before the deadline.
- Above all, remember Oct. 1st. It is not a deadline however you will cover all your bases if you submit your FASFA soon after that day.
- Wait for your financial aid award letter. It details how much in federal loans you can borrow and how much free aid you can get. If you don’t get enough aid then you may appeal your award.
Pay attention to deadlines, experts advise. It’s critical to meet financial aid deadlines and to understand that they vary by institution.