College Planning Resources

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

 

What Is FAFSA?

All students are expected to contribute towards the cost of their college education. How much you and your family will be expected to contribute depends on your financial situation—and is what is referred to as your Expected Family Contribution or EFC.

 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC is a mini financial “need analysis” based on income, assets and other household information, which you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) will be asked to provide. The form is submitted to, and processed by, a federal processor contracted by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), and the results are electronically transmitted to the financial aid offices of the schools that you list on your application.

 

FAFSA is the application used by nearly all colleges and universities to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs.

 

FAFSA Eligibility

Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial aid, including low-interest Federal Stafford and/or parent PLUS loans, regardless of income or circumstances, provided you meet the following criteria:

  • A U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or an eligible non-citizen
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Registered with the U.S. Selective Service (if you are a male between the ages of 18-25)
  • Complete a FAFSA promising to use any federal aid for educational purposes
  • Do not owe refunds on any federal student grants
  • Are not in default on any student loans
  • Have not been found guilty of the sale or possession of illegal drugs during a period in which federal aid was being received

 

Applying for Aid...FAFSA is step #1

To be considered for federal financial aid, you must complete and submit a FAFSA. Additionally, most states, colleges and universities use the FAFSA to award other types of institutional financial aid, including state- and college-sponsored financial aid, such as grants, educational loans, and work-study programs.

Besides the FAFSA form, some states/college may require additional forms and applications for aid. Contact your Guidance Counselor or Financial Aid Office for any state or specific school requirements.

 

When should I file a FAFSA?

In general, the amount of available financial aid is limited, so the best time to apply for it is as soon as possible.

 

The first thing to understand is the date range of an academic year. An academic year is exactly 12 months long, beginning on July 1st, and ending on June 30th. For example, the 2014-2015 academic year begins on July 1, 2014, and ends on June 30, 2015.

 

The second thing to understand is that you must file a new FAFSA application for every academic year, if you want to continue to receive financial aid. But whereas an academic year is 12 months long, the FAFSA filing window for each academic year lasts for 18 months. You may file a FAFSA for an academic year beginning on January 1st, six months before the academic year, right up until the same day that the academic year ends on June 30th. For example:

  • You can file a FAFSA for the 2013-2014 academic year between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.
  • You can file a FAFSA for the 2014-2015 academic year between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.
  • You can file a FAFSA for the 2015-2016 academic year between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.
  • You can file a FAFSA for the 2016-2017 academic year between January 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.
  • etc.

 

By using our service, you can start the application process even earlier, and at your convenience. We can prepare your FAFSA for a future academic year now, and file it for you as soon as possible after January 1st. This ensures you the best chance at receiving all the aid you qualify for, and lets you relax on the New Year's Day holiday, when everyone else is either sleeping or scrambling to file their FAFSA.

 

The FAFSA application is used to apply for federal, state, and college-sponsored aid, and each aid program may have its own deadlines. For more details on 2013-2014 academic year deadlines, click here. State aid program deadlines are often sooner than the federal deadline. However, residents of any state can still file a FAFSA after their state deadline to apply for federal aid. To learn filing deadlines for college-sponsored aid programs, speak to the financial aid administrator at the college you wish to attend.

 

When you place an order for our service by 7pm Central Time on a state or federal deadline, we do our best to file it with the federal processor by midnight of that same day. However we cannot guarantee FAFSA filing times due to the many factors which may affect it, including the completeness and accuracy of information received, order volume, the multiple technical platforms upon which processing relies, and more. Therefore, we always recommend filing as soon as possible after the January 1st prior to each academic year, whether you use our services or file on your own directly with the government.

 

Finally, note that some deadlines apply to the filing date of the FAFSA, whereas other deadlines apply to the processing date of your FAFSA. The federal June 30th deadline applies to the filing date of your FAFSA. For any state or college-sponsored aid deadlines that apply to processing of your FAFSA, note that processing can take the US Department of Education anywhere from several days to several weeks after your FAFSA is filed.

In the end, the best strategy is usually to file your FAFSA application as early as possible.

 

FASFA Deadlines

 

FAFSA deadlines are set by federal and state agencies, as well as individual school financial aid offices, and vary widely. Some schools have deadlines as early as the second week in January! Many states, colleges and universities may have their own filing deadlines that are much earlier than the FASFA Deadlines. As a FASFA applicant, you will need to pay particular attention to deadline specifics, as some refer to the date by which individual FAFSAs must be submitted (Transaction Receipt Date), while others refer to the date by which individual FAFSAs must be fully processed (completed by the federal processor and made available to the school financial aid office).

 

It is necessary for all students to consult with their Guidance Counselor or Financial Aid Office to verify the exact FAFSA deadline requirements and file FAFSA ASAP after January `1st.

 

The Early Bird Gets the Money!!

No matter what your individual state or school filing deadline, when it comes to your FAFSA, the sooner you file after January 1st each year (the date that the federal processor begins accepting applications), the better!

Many types of financial aid (particularly need-based aid, including grants, loans and work-study programs) are limited and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, the sooner your FAFSA is fully processed and released to your school's financial aid administrators, the better your chances of receiving consideration for the maximum amount of financial aid for which you may be eligible.

 

Determining FAFSA Dependency

Your answers to questions on the FAFSA determine whether you are considered a dependent or independent student. The questions change a little from one year’s FAFSA to the next year’s; for instance, the 2013–14 FAFSA asks whether you were born before Jan. 1, 1990, while the 2012–13 FAFSA asked whether you were born before Jan. 1, 1989. Visit the web site below to view and answer the 2013–14 questions that determine your dependency status:

 

http://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/filling-out/dependency

 

The Department of Education uses a very rigid set of criteria for determining whether a student is INDEPENDENT for financial aid consideration (which means that the custodial parents’ income and asset information is not considered in determining a student’s financial aid, and therefore not required on the FAFSA). Regardless of how much support a student actually receives from his or her parents, he or she is still considered a DEPENDENT student for financial aid purposes UNLESS at least one of the following criteria is met:

 

Many students feel that they should be able to declare INDEPENDENT status because they live on their own, file their own taxes, or receive no support from their parents. Unfortunately, the Department of Education is extremely strict with regard to determining dependency status.

 

If you are considered a DEPENDENT student (do not meet the criteria listed above) and do not provide your parents’ information on your FAFSA, your application WILL BE REJECTED.

 

 

State Deadlines:

Each state has a different deadline. See the listing below.

 

College Deadlines:

Each college may have a different deadline. Check with the college(s) you are interested in attending. You may also want to ask your college about their definition of an application deadline – whether it is the date they receive your FAFSA, or the date your FAFSA is processed.

  • The state deadline to note is that of your state of legal residence.
  • Date received means received by the U.S. Department of Education, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Additional form may be required. Contact your financial aid administrator or your state agency.
  • Applicants are encouraged to keep a record of their submission by printing out their online FAFSA      confirmation page or obtaining proof of mailing.
  • For priority consideration, submit application by date specified.
  • Deadline by midnight, Central Daylight Time.
  • Deadline by midnight, Central Standard Time.

State

Financial   Aid Deadline

Alabama

Check with your financial aid administrator

Alaska

AK Education Grant – April 15, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time.

  

AK Performance Scholarship – June 30, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time.   

American Samoa

Check with your financial  aid administrator. Additional forms may be required.

Arizona

Check with your financial aid administrator

Arkansas

For Academic Challenge – June 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time.

  

For Workforce Grant – check with your financial aid administrator.

  

For Higher Education Opportunity Grant – June 1, 2011 by midnight, Central     Daylight Time.

California

For initial awards – March 2, 2011.  Applicants encouraged to keep a record of their submission by printing out  their online FAFSA confirmation page or obtaining proof of mailing the  FAFSA. Additional form may be required. Contact your financial aid  administrator or your state agency.  

For additional community college awards – September 2, 2011 – date postmarked. Applicants encouraged to keep a record of their submission by printing out their online FAFSA confirmation page or obtaining proof of mailing the FAFSA.

Colorado

Check with your financial aid administrator

Connecticut

February 15, 2011. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified. Additional form may be required. Contact your financial aid administrator or your state agency.

Delaware

April 15, 2011 by midnight, Central  Daylight Time.

District of Columbia

June 30, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified. Additional form may be required. Contact your financial aid administrator or your state agency.

Federated States of Micronesia

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional form may be required.

Florida

May 15, 2011 – date processed

Georgia

 Check with your financial aid administrator

Guam

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional form may be required.

Hawaii

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional   form may be required.

Idaho

Opportunity Grant – March 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified. Additional form may be required. Contact your financial aid administrator or your state agency.

Illinois

As soon as possible after January 1, 2011. Awards made until funds are depleted.

Indiana

March 10, 2011 by midnight, Central Standard Time.

Iowa

July 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time; earlier priority deadlines may exist for certain programs.

Kansas

April 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified. Additional form may be required. Contact your financial aid  administrator or your state agency.

Kentucky

As soon as possible after January 1, 2011. Awards made until funds are depleted.

Louisiana

June 30, 2012 (July 1, 2011 recommended)

Maine

May 1, 2011

Marshall Islands

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional form may be required.

Maryland

March 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Standard Time.

Massachusetts

May 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified.

Michigan

March 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Standard Time.

Minnesota

30   days after term starts by midnight, Central Daylight Time.

Mississippi

MTAG and MESG Grants – September 15, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time.

HELP Scholarship – March 31, 2011 by midnight, Central   Daylight Time.

Missouri

April 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified.

Montana

March 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Standard Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified.

Nebraska

Check with your financial aid administrator.

Nevada

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional forms may be required.

New Hampshire

May 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time.

New Jersey

2010-2011 Tuition Aid Grant  recipients – June 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time.

 

All other applications – October 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time, for fall and spring terms; March 1, 2012 by midnight, Central Daylight Time, for spring term only.

New Mexico

Check with your financial aid administrator.

New York

June 30, 2012 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. Applicants encouraged to keep a record of their submission by printing out their online FAFSA confirmation page or obtaining proof of mailing the FAFSA. Additional form may be required. Contact your financial aid administrator or your state agency.

North Carolina

Check with your financial aid administrator.

North Dakota

March 15, 2011 by midnight, Central Standard Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified.

Northern Mariana Islands

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional form may be required.

Ohio

October 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time.

Oklahoma

March 15, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified.

Oregon

OSAC Private Scholarships – March 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Standard Time. Oregon Opportunity Grant – As soon as possible after January 1, 2011. Awards made until funds are depleted.

Palau

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional form may be required.

Pennsylvania

All 2010-2011 State Grant recipients and all non-2010-2011 State Grant recipients in degree programs – May 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. Additional form may be required. Contact your financial aid administrator or your state agency.

 

All other applicants – August 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. Additional form may be required. Contact your financial aid administrator or your state agency.

Puerto Rico

Check with your financial aid administrator.

Rhode Island

March 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Standard Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified.

South Carolina

Tuition Grants – June 30, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time.

SC Commission on Higher Education – As soon as possible   after January 1, 2011. Awards made until funds are depleted.

South Dakota

Check with your financial aid   administrator. Additional form may be required.

Tennessee

For State Grant – As soon as possible after January 1, 2011. Awards made until funds are depleted.

 

For State Lottery – September 1, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified.

Texas

Check with your financial aid administrator.

U.S. Virgin Islands

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional form may be required.

Utah

Check with your financial aid administrator.

Vermont

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional form may be required.

Virginia

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional form may be required.

Washington

Check with your financial aid administrator.

West Virginia

April 15, 2011 by midnight, Central Daylight Time. For priority consideration, submit application by date specified. Additional form may be required. Contact your financial aid administrator or your state agency.

Wisconsin

Check with your financial aid administrator.

Wyoming

Check with your financial aid administrator. Additional form may be required.

 

 

©2010 fafsa.gov. All rights reserved. FAFSA is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Education.

Source: Fafsaonline.com

 

 

 


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