Free FAFSA Guide
Federal student aid has an award year that runs from July 1 to June 30. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) has a 21-month application cycle that begins on October 1, nine months before the start of the award year, and ends on June 30, the last day of the award year.
Versions of the FAFSA available from Oct. 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020:
This means that there is a nine-month overlap period from October 1 to June 30 of each year during which there are two versions of the FAFSA available. Most students will be filing the FAFSA for the upcoming award year. But, about 10 percent of the students will be filing the FAFSA for the current award year, perhaps due to a midyear start to their college career. Some students get confused and file the wrong year’s FAFSA. Double-check the award year, which is shown at the top of the FAFSA. FAFSA on the Web assumes that the student will be filing a FAFSA for the upcoming award year.
Although the federal deadline for the FAFSA is June 30 of the award year, in most cases the school must also receive a valid Student Aid Report (SAR ) or Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) while the student is still enrolled for the award year.
The federal deadline for the FAFSA is a receipt deadline. If the applicant is filing a paper version of the FAFSA, the form must be legible and received by the federal processor by this deadline. For FAFSA on the Web, the receipt date and time is when the application or correction has been successfully submitted. (The Confirmation Page contains a 22 or 30 character confirmation number, depending on whether the submission is for an application or correction, respectively. The confirmation number encodes the exact date and time (Central Standard Time) the form is received.) If a FAFSA is received after the June 30 federal deadline, it will not be processed.
A FAFSA correction application changes the application receipt date. Keep a copy of the original Confirmation Page and other output documents. This may be required to provide proof that you met the original deadline date for school and state aid.
Note that while the federal deadline is based on when the application is received, some colleges and state agencies base their deadlines on when the application is processed - when the college or state agency receives the applicant’s FAFSA data from the federal processor. Ask the school whether they base their deadlines on the date the FAFSA was received or the date the FAFSA was processed. It is best to file the FAFSA well in advance of the deadlines.
Do not wait until the last minute to begin and submit your FAFSA, or you may miss the deadlines. There are no exceptions for late applications. If you procrastinate, you will not be able to get the student aid you need to pay for college.
Note: Transactions must be completed and accepted by midnight to meet the deadline. If an application is started before midnight but not completed until after midnight, the application will not meet the deadline. In addition, any application submitted on the deadline date that gets rejected may not be able to be reprocessed because the deadline will have passed by the time the applicant is notified of the reject.
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