When should I complete the FAFSA?
FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and opens every year on October 1 for the school year starting the following fall. If you plan to attend college starting in August or September of 2022, then the FAFSA application period opened October 1, 2021. It closes June 30 at 11:59 p.m.
When you complete the FAFSA, you will list the schools you are interested in attending. Those schools receive your FAFSA information. After you apply for admission to those schools and get accepted, they will use it to determine how much financial aid you qualify for and let you know how much you need to cover. Some schools have a different deadline other than June 30. Make sure you check their deadline, so you aren’t prevented from getting in just because you didn’t complete the FAFSA.
The only way to receive federal grants, like a PELL grant, is to complete the FAFSA. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for a federal grant, you should complete it. After all, many student loan lenders require the FAFSA to be completed before applying with them. Schools also use it to determine if you may qualify for scholarship funds that are unique to their institutions. It doesn’t commit you to a certain college or to a student loan.
How long does it take to complete the FAFSA?
Get organized, and it will take you less time. The federal government has simplified the application and gives tips along the way to make it easier. If you take 30 minutes to educate yourself about items on the FAFSA beforehand, that will make it go faster. The BND College Handbook has a great quick reference.
This is what you need to get started:
- Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) for both the parent and the student. You each apply for this online at studentaid.gov.
- Student’s Social Security number and date of birth
- 2019 federal tax return of the parent, and if applicable, the student
- 2019 untaxed income records which include veteran’s non-education benefit records, child support received and workers’ compensation
- Assets which include the balance of cash, savings and investments
- Alien registration or permanent resident card if not a U.S. citizen