Free FAFSA Guide
Most colleges use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to award their own financial aid funds. Schools generally have their own FAFSA deadlines for applying for and awarding student aid. Check with each college’s financial aid office for information about the college’s financial aid application forms and deadlines.
Don’t miss out on aid because of confusion over the different deadlines for the FAFSA. The student must complete the FAFSA each year to be considered for government grants, employment and loans. The form is also used to apply for financial aid from the state government and most colleges. While the federal deadline gives applicants 21 months to file the form, through June 30 two years in advance, each college may have much earlier deadlines, some as early as October.
Other colleges have less strict deadlines, but award their student aid funds on a first-come, first-served basis until the money is gone. Students who apply earlier are more likely to get financial aid funds. Some types of aid, like student loans, are unlimited but are a less attractive option.
About 225 mostly private colleges require a supplemental financial aid form called the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. The FAFSA is still used to apply for government aid, but the PROFILE form is used to award the college’s own financial aid funds. The PROFILE has the same filing period than the FAFSA, also allowing applications to be submitted as early as October 1.
Each college has a Federal School Code that must be listed on the FAFSA for the college’s financial aid office to receive the student’s FAFSA data. Use FAFSA.ed.gov’s School Codes Directory to get these federal school codes. (The FAFSA Federal School Code is different from the code number used for the College Board CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, SAT, Advanced Placement (AP), College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests and the ACT.) This tool also provides the contact information for the school’s financial aid office, making it easier to contact them to ask about financial aid application forms and deadlines.
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