When is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) due? Well, the FAFSA has three deadlines: a federal, state and school deadline. The FAFSA deadline set by the federal government is June 30, 2022, for the 2021-22 school year.
Colleges, though, can set their own, earlier FAFSA deadlines, and states can also set their own deadlines for students applying for state aid. This might sound confusing, so consider this piece of advice instead: Submit the FAFSA as close to the date it opens (Oct. 1) as possible.
If you apply early, not only will you meet all the various FAFSA deadlines, but you might also get more financial aid for college.
Here are the details you should know about…
When is the FAFSA due?
Since some financial aid is doled out on a first-come, first-served basis, it’s a good idea to submit the FAFSA as soon as you can. This application becomes available on Oct. 1 every year. So if you’ll be an incoming college freshman, you could submit the FAFSA starting on Oct. 1 of your senior year in high school.
However, the FAFSA isn’t technically due then. If you need to wait, keep in mind these three FAFSA deadlines:
1. The federal FAFSA due date
Since the Department of Education offers the FAFSA funding, it also sets a deadline for the application. But this deadline is a long one — you’ll have access to the FAFSA for over a year and a half.
The FAFSA for the 2021-22 school year, for instance, became available on Oct. 1, 2020. It remains open until June 30, 2022. Plus, you can make corrections or updates until Sept. 10, 2022.
Most students file the FAFSA much closer to the date it opens than the date it closes. The main reason to file the FAFSA later in the school year would be if you had a major change in your financial circumstances.
“Students can file the FAFSA until the end of the academic year and still get some aid,” said Mark Kantrowitz, financial aid expert and publisher of SavingforCollege.com. “This most often happens when a wealthy student has a change in family financial circumstances (e.g., death of a parent) that significantly affects their ability to pay for college.”
Unless you have a major change in your financial circumstances, you probably don’t need to worry about the federal FAFSA deadline since you’ll be submitting the FAFSA months ahead of it. But you do need to consider state and college FAFSA deadlines, both of which come up a lot sooner.
2. Your college’s FAFSA deadline
Colleges rely on the FAFSA to award financial aid. If you get into a school, you’ll likely see your financial aid package at the same time as your acceptance letter. So for many colleges, you’ll need to submit the FAFSA in time for them to review your application and calculate your financial aid.
Each college sets its own deadline for the FAFSA. Note that a few schools also require the CSS Profile, another document that assesses your financial need. Head to the financial aid website of each college on your list to find its FAFSA deadlines.
Tufts University, for example, sets an early-decision FAFSA due date of Nov. 1, the same date its early-decision applications are due. If you’re applying by Tufts’ regular decision deadline of Feb. 3, you’ll also need to submit your FAFSA by Feb. 3.
At Tufts, as with some other colleges, your FAFSA deadline falls on the same day as or close to your college application deadline. However, you still might want to file the FAFSA months earlier to qualify for the most amount of financial aid from your state.
3. Your state’s FAFSA due date
Finally, each state might also set its own FAFSA deadline for incoming college students. States also have financial aid programs, especially for residents attending in-state public colleges. Connecticut’s FAFSA deadline for the 2021-22 school year, for example, was Feb. 15, 2021, at least for priority consideration.
To qualify for state financial aid, you need to file the FAFSA before the state deadline. In fact, the earlier you can submit your financial aid application the better, since some aid is given out on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Students should file the FAFSA as soon as possible on or after Oct. 1,” said Kantrowitz. “Students who file the FAFSA within the first three months (October, November and December) tend to receive more than twice as much grant funding, on average, as students who file the FAFSA later.”
Illinois, Kentucky and Oklahoma simply urge students to get the FAFSA in as soon as possible after Oct. 1. These states say awards are distributed until state financial aid funds are depleted.
Even though filling out the FAFSA can be time-consuming, getting it done early is well worth the effort.
Why you should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible
Instead of asking, “When is the FAFSA due?” a better question is, “When does the FAFSA become available?” It opens on Oct. 1 every year, so you should simply plan on submitting it then.
Instead of waiting until your school, state or federal FAFSA deadline, try to file the FAFSA ASAP. You might start preparing your information in September so you can submit the application right after it opens in October.
Then, you won’t have to worry about all these FAFSA deadlines. Instead, you can focus your attention on applying for scholarships.
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