***If you are a senior in high school: October 1st marks a critical pivot point in making college more affordable for your family.***
The FAFSA website goes live on October 1st. Consequently, this is a critical mile marker in the college admissions cycle; you must submit your FAFSA to receive your fair share of the $120 billion the U.S. Department of Education distributes in need-based financial aid each year. Quick overview:
- We advise families to submit this form as soon as possible following October 1st.
- Typically, it will take you an hour to complete the form.
- There are huge advantages to filing your FAFSA early.
Here are seven reasons to start working on your FAFSA now and submit it soon:
- Colleges have a limited amount of financial aid, and some begin distributing those dollars in the fall. Families submitting their FAFSA later may miss the opportunity to receive their maximum financial aid packages.
- Give yourself more time to collect the forms you need to reference as you fill out the FAFSA.
- Gain more time to engage with colleges where you gain admission so you fully understand what’s included in your aid package.
- Have longer to compare financial aid offers from all the colleges you’re considering.
- Appeal for additional funds, if your financial aid package does not feel affordable, before you need to finalize your college choice.
- Allow yourself time to apply to additional colleges if your early aid award(s) feels inadequate.
- Increase your time to seek merit scholarship opportunities beyond need-based financial aid.
The Federal Government websites StudentAid.gov and FAFSA.gov provide many resources to help you obtain financial aid. Keep these links handy.
Likewise, Sections 1.5 “Financial Aid and Scholarships” and Section 3.4 “Claim Your Financial Aid and Scholarships” of our 15-Part Video Series are designed specifically to help families navigate the financial aid application process.
Importantly, many colleges provide merit-based scholarships that complement need-based aid. Some of these scholarships have separate applications and deadlines, so make sure you research all scholarship opportunities for colleges on your application list.
Fitz has dedicated the entirety of his 25 year career to encouraging higher education opportunities. He worked in the Vanderbilt, Duke Law and St. Lawrence admissions offices prior to serving as an enrollment management consultant for dozens of colleges around the country. He is also the founder of Find The Right College which has a mission to make trustworthy college counseling more accessible.