The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a form that students must submit each year if they need federal assistance for their undergraduate or graduate school courses. You may also need to fill out the FAFSA if you’re interested in receiving financial aid from a specific school, state or program. Wondering when you’ll need to complete the application? Let’s look at the FAFSA deadline for the federal government and states across the country.
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What Is the Federal FAFSA Deadline?
The federal FAFSA deadline for the 2016-2017 school year is June 30, 2017. The federal deadline for the 2017-2018 school year is June 30, 2018. For each of these deadlines, students must submit their applications online (or through the mail) by midnight Central Time.
If students need to make any updates or corrections, they must do so by a deadline in September. For the 2016-2017 academic year, that deadline is September 9, 2017. For the 2017-2018 school year, that deadline is September 15, 2018.
As you can see, applications for federal financial aid technically aren’t due until the end of each academic year. That gives students who begin taking classes halfway through the school year a chance to complete their FAFSA forms.
But keep in mind that different states (and colleges) have their own deadlines. In other words, in order to receive financial aid from the institution you’re attending or the state you live in, you’ll likely need to fill out the FAFSA before June 30.
State FAFSA Deadlines
State FAFSA deadlines vary widely. For the 2017-2018 school year, the state of Connecticut had one of the earliest deadlines: February 15, 2017. Louisiana has the latest deadline: July 1, 2018. That’s a day later than the federal FAFSA deadline. But it’s recommended that students attending college in Louisiana submit their FAFSA forms by July 1, 2017.
Some states don’t have FAFSA deadlines at all. In these instances, students must check with their schools for financial aid form due dates. In other cases, states don’t have specific deadlines but ask students to submit their applications as soon as possible after the forms become available.
Following changes made by the Obama administration, FAFSA forms can be submitted as early as October 1 (beginning in 2016) instead of January 1. The new FAFSA gives families the chance to complete their forms using information from their most recent tax returns. In the past, parents and students had to use estimates and make changes to their forms after filing their taxes.
Not sure when your FAFSA form is due? You can visit the FAFSA website and find deadlines for your state. If you need to meet with a financial aid administrator, it’s important to do that as soon as possible. Colleges may have their own deadlines and some may require students to complete additional forms.
When Should I Apply for FAFSA?
If your school has a specific date for submitting FAFSA forms, it’s a good idea to meet that deadline. If you’re preparing to attend college for the first time, you’ll need to be aware of FAFSA deadlines for all the schools you’re interested in attending.
While you may be able to wait until the spring or summer to apply for financial aid, it’s best to complete the FAFSA as early as possible. If you wait until the last minute, your school or state may run out of money.
What Happens If I Miss the FAFSA Deadline?
Students must fill out the FAFSA every year if they need financial aid for the upcoming academic year. States and colleges occasionally offer assistance to late applicants. But if you miss your school or state’s FAFSA deadline, you run the risk of missing out on scholarships and grants.
If you can’t qualify for school-specific or state-level financial aid because you procrastinated, you could still be eligible for federal aid. The government allows students to participate in the Federal Work-Study Program and offers grants and scholarships in addition to student loans that must eventually be paid back.
If you miss the federal FAFSA deadline, you’re out of luck. You’ll have to find another way to pay for college or look into taking out a private student loan.
If you need help covering the cost of college, you’ll need to avoid missing your FAFSA deadlines. Submitting your FAFSA as soon as possible will put you in the best possible position to take advantage of scholarships and other forms of financial assistance.
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