Advisors with clients whose kids are in college or expect to enroll next fall should remind them to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible. The Department of Education began accepting FAFSA applications on Oct.1.
“October 1 is not a deadline, so much as a start date, but students who file the FAFSA later may miss out on some forms of financial aid,” says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research at Savingforcollege.com, in a recent article on the website. “It should be filed as soon as possible because in many cases, loans and grants are awarded on a rolling basis and schools and states set different deadlines to qualify for financial aid and scholarships.”
Students who file the FAFSA during the first three months beginning Oct. 1 tend to receive twice as much in grants, on average, as students who file the FAFSA later, added Kantrowitz. He explains: “Each college gets a fixed allocation of Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS) funding, so the money can run out.”
In addition, each state has its own FAFSA filing deadline for awarding state grants, and they can vary widely, according to savingforcollege.com’s FAFSA Deadlines Tool.
Illinois, for example, advises filing the FAFSA “ASAP After Oct. 1, 2019” for students to qualify for its Monetary Award Program since “awards are made until funds are depleted,” which is also the case for awards from 13 other states: Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Washington, according to Kantrowitz.
Nine other states have deadlines between December and March, including California, Maryland, Michigan and Texas.
Colleges also have their own FAFSA filing deadlines for students to qualify for financial aid, which depend largely on federal and state funds.