Tick, Tock – The Financial Aid Clock is Ticking
written by: Sarah Miller for Student Choice
Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. They’re everywhere when you’re getting ready for college. Deadlines for graduation, to apply for college, scholarship applications, and financial aid. You probably have a lot of dates floating around in your head, especially if you’re applying to numerous colleges. It’s a good idea to keep track of all those dates in one spot – a Google calendar, your phone’s calendar, or even a good old-fashioned paper planner. You’d hate to miss out on attending your top choice school or a $5,000 scholarship just because you didn’t submit forms on time.
So about those financial aid deadlines – why are there so many? It’s because the deadlines fall into three categories: federal, state, and college. Keep these in mind as you’re completing your FAFSA.
Online applications for federal aid (meaning your FAFSA) must be submitted by midnight Central Time, June 30, 2014. Any corrections or updates must be submitted by midnight Central Time, September 20, 2014. However, the sooner you complete your FAFSA, the better. You’ll have access to more opportunities for that golden FREE or cheap money for college. Want to find out more about these opportunities…check out some of our previous articles about maximizing your financial aid (including scholarships and grants) as well as completing the FAFSA.
Despite its name (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the FAFSA is also used to determine eligibility for many state financial aid programs. Each state has a different filing deadline – find your state’s deadline by using the FAFSA deadline sheet.
The FAFSA is also crucial for financial aid from colleges, and each college may have a different deadline as well. Check with the colleges you are interested in attending – you may be able to find the dates on their financial aid department’s webpage. You’ll also want to ask the college about its definition of an application deadline – whether it is the date the college receives your FAFSA, or the date your FAFSA is processed.
Why does it matter?
As a college student you will be responsible for plenty of deadlines for projects, papers, and tests. By providing this necessary information ON TIME you’re establishing good habits for the future. And as we mentioned above, you may also have the opportunity for more financial aid. Some colleges offer a monetary incentive just for early filers (FREE MONEY!) and others have money that is only available to those who file by the deadline.
Don’t make excuses!
Just because you or your parents haven’t filed last year’s taxes yet doesn’t mean you can’t complete your FAFSA! You can use estimated tax information from last year’s tax returns or your best guess for income based on paystubs. You can update your FAFSA once your taxes are filed so don’t miss that deadline just because your taxes aren’t done!
You also shouldn’t wait for acceptance letters in order to file your FAFSA. You do NOT have to have acceptance to a college in order to submit your FAFSA information to that college. And what about that school that’s “just your back-up?” Send your information there too! You never know what the future holds.