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- 1 Compare Personalized Student Loan Rates
- 2 The 2021-2022 FAFSA Is Already Open
- 3 Check CSS Profile Deadlines, Too
- 4 Get an FSA ID First
- 5 Why You Should File Your FAFSA Early
- 6 Federal FAFSA Deadline for the 2021-22 Academic Year
- 7 State and School FAFSA Deadlines
- 8 School Deadlines Beyond FAFSA Deadlines
- 9 Submit Additional Applications as Soon as Possible
- 10 Make Changes to the FAFSA as Needed
- 11 File a Special Circumstances Form if Family Finances Change
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You are required to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by the FAFSA deadline to be eligible for federal student aid during that academic year. While you can file the 2021-2022 FAFSA as late as June 2022, there are state and college deadlines you should be aware of. When the FAFSA application opens is an even more important date to remember than the deadline for filing.
Here’s what you need to know about federal, state and college deadlines.
The 2021-2022 FAFSA Is Already Open
The 2021-2022 FAFSA opened on Oct. 1, 2020. The opening date is the same for all states. If you still need aid for the 2020-2021 academic year, you can apply until June 30, 2021.
Check CSS Profile Deadlines, Too
Nearly 400 public and private institutions use the CSS Profile to collect financial information outside of what the FAFSA covers to determine a family’s ability to pay for college. Colleges and universities use the profile to determine your financial aid package.
The CSS Profile generally opens on Oct. 1 for the following academic year. Application deadlines vary by school. The College Board, which administers the CSS Profile, suggests filling out CSS Profiles two weeks before the earliest CSS Profile priority filing deadline at each school you’re considering.
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Get an FSA ID First
Before you fill out the FAFSA, you need to create an FSA ID, a login containing a username and password. The FSA is required to apply for financial aid and to check the status of student aid on federal websites. The process of applying for an FSA ID takes just a few minutes. However, if there are any problems getting a new FSA ID or retrieving an already existing one, having the working ID login credentials ahead of time will help you apply for financial aid faster.
Why You Should File Your FAFSA Early
Filing early is important to improve your chances of receiving financial aid that’s awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. For instance, work-study program funding may run out if you file too late. You’re also more likely to meet state or college deadlines if you file the FAFSA as soon as you can.
Federal FAFSA Deadline for the 2021-22 Academic Year
The final date to file the FAFSA for the 2021-2022 academic year is June 30, 2022 , but you can lose spring and fall financial aid—including federal student loans—by filing this late.
Let’s say you filed your FAFSA on June 1, 2022 for the 2021-2022 academic year. The spring semester ended May 15. That means you may be eligible only for federal student loans for summer classes. If you filed the FAFSA before the spring semester ended, you could be eligible for federal student loans for the fall and spring terms in addition to the summer term. Loans can be backdated for the fall semester as long as you fill out the FAFSA before the end of the spring semester.
State and School FAFSA Deadlines
The FAFSA June 30 filing deadline and the Oct. 1 opening date are always the same, but state and school FAFSA deadlines can differ. For instance, Alaska asks students to submit their FAFSA and apply for the Alaska Education Grant shortly after Oct. 1 for the next academic year because the award is only offered until the money runs out. California suggests applying by March 2, 2021, while Arkansas has a deadline of July 1, 2021 for the fall term of the 2021-2022 academic year.
Schools and states often use the financial data submitted on FAFSA as a starting point for evaluating financial need. If a school doesn’t receive your information before it calculates annual award packages, it greatly reduces your chances of financial aid for the upcoming academic year.
Note: State grants and scholarships may require additional applications beyond the FAFSA. Look for requests at the end of your FAFSA application along with what applications are required according to your state’s Department of Education website.
School Deadlines Beyond FAFSA Deadlines
There are individual scholarship and grant deadlines that are just as important as the school’s FAFSA deadline. University grants may be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, where those who qualify are the most likely to receive them if they apply as early as possible. Each school also can send out financial aid award letters on different dates. When you narrow your list of colleges, ask the financial aid offices at your top schools for the deadlines and opening dates that apply to your unique financial and academic situation.
Schools you apply to may need additional applications beyond the FAFSA for specific scholarships and grants.
Submit Additional Applications as Soon as Possible
Create a tracking system for submitting and checking on applications, whether it’s on Google Calendar or a handwritten list.
Make Changes to the FAFSA as Needed
After you submit the FAFSA, you may need to make changes, such as adding or deleting a school from your list. Deadlines won’t change. However, anytime you make a change on the FAFSA, you may want to notify your state department of education if a state school is now your top choice when it wasn’t before, says Richard Castellano, spokesperson for private student lender Sallie Mae. Some states award more aid to students who opt for state schools first, he says.
File a Special Circumstances Form if Family Finances Change
A special circumstances form lets the school know that your family’s income has fallen since the tax year reported on the FAFSA. It’s also useful for listing other financial changes such as a large medical expense.
Each school has its own form available from the financial aid office. If you haven’t decided on a school, you can fill out a form for each of your final choices. It’s best to fill out the form as soon as possible because it may increase your eligibility for aid for money awarded early in the academic calendar.