Next fall’s crop of college students can start applying for federal financial aid Jan. 1. And if they jump right on it, they have a greater chance of getting significantly more money.
The new Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, is accepted by most colleges around the country. It must be completed every year by students who are starting or continuing college. It’s available online at https://fafsa.ed.gov.
The application asks for financial and personal information to determine the student’s eligibility for all kinds of aid, whether scholarships or grants, loans, or work-study programs.
According to The New York Times, students who apply for the FAFSA early, from January through March, get a tremendous advantage. Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the financial aid website Edvisors.com, told the Times that early filers get on average twice the grant money than those who file after that window.
Watch out for these deadlines:
Online applications must be submitted by midnight Central Time, June 30, 2016.
Any corrections or updates must be submitted by midnight Central Time, September 17, 2016.
June 30, 2016 by midnight, Central Time. Additional form may be required.
Check with the college you are interested in attending. You may also want to ask your college about its definition of an application deadline — whether it is the date the college receives your FAFSA, or the date your FAFSA is processed.