Hey college students, it’s deadline time.
Forget final exams, we’re talking FAFSA (but don’t forget about your exams either).
FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the form you must fill out to apply for student loans, grants and Federal Work-Study.
You can still get federal financial aid for the current 2019-20 school year, but you must submit your online application by June 30 — some states and colleges have extended their deadlines, too.
If your income changed drastically this year, you may be eligible to have your financial aid adjusted. You’ll need to submit corrections for your 2019-20 FAFSA by Sept. 12, 2020.
Now is not the time to dawdle. Here’s what you need to know.
What You Need to Know About FAFSA 2020 Deadlines
There really isn’t any reason you should skip submitting your FAFSA. It’s free to apply, and many states and colleges require the FAFSA to be eligible for financial aid, including scholarships.
But we understand that the application process can get a bit confusing. FAFSA offers a nearly two-year window to apply, so there are a lot of overlapping deadlines.
If you attended in the 2019-20 school year, the FAFSA deadline opened on Oct. 1, 2018, and closes June 30, 2020. So you could still get financial aid to pay for the school year that’s ending.
For the 2020-21 school year, your FAFSA application period opened Oct. 1, 2019, and closes June 30, 2021. So technically, you have until next June to apply for federal financial aid for the upcoming school year.
But the earlier you can apply, the better chance you’ll have to claim available funds.
To maximize your chances for receiving financial assistance for the 2021-22 school year, submit the FAFSA as soon as you can after the submission period begins on Oct. 1, 2020.
To add to the confusion, states and colleges have their own deadlines, many of which closed months ago for the 2019-20 school year.
But your school and college may have extended their FAFSA deadline, too — you’ll need to check here for your state and with your college’s financial aid office for their deadlines.
Filling Out — and Correcting — FAFSA
If you’ve never filled out the FAFSA before, we have a guide to help you navigate the form. Among the information you’ll need to gather before you login:
- Social security numbers. You’ll need yours, plus your parents’ or your spouse’s.
- Last year’s tax return. For the 2019-20 school year, you’d need your 2017 tax return. You should be able to import your tax data, which will make the process easier.
- Information on your savings and checking account balances as well as investments.
If you did fill out the FAFSA and your financial situation has changed significantly since you submitted your form, you should first fill out the corrected info on your FAFSA application, then contact your school directly to ask them to review your updated information.
If you or your parents lost jobs recently, for instance, the income used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) could be drastically smaller than the amount based on your 2017 tax returns. That could alter not only the amount of financial aid you receive, but also the type (think: free grant money vs. loans you have to repay).
It’s worth the time and effort to find out how much financial aid you’re eligible for, regardless of whether you accept all, some or none of it.
Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.