The first mistake many students and families make is assuming they can't afford college. Don't be discouraged by the sticker price of college until you know how much financial aid may be available to you. Financial aid can significantly reduce the cost of college, but it can be tricky to estimate how much student aid you will get. Two factors are generally used to determine who gets student aid and how much they get: need and merit.
Some student aid programs use a combination of need and merit to determine eligibility.
It all starts with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). With this one application, you can apply for financial aid at multiple colleges and from multiple funding sources (federal, state, institutional and private providers of assistance). Mistakes can delay your application, potentially limiting the amount of aid you are eligible to receive. As you prepare to fill out your FAFSA, keep this list of FAFSA Tips and Common Mistakes To Avoid handy.
You will need to fill out the FAFSA once for each academic year that you will attend school. The farther in advance you do it, the better!
2020 - 2021 Academic Year
The FAFSA for next academic year (July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021) became available online on October 1, 2019. To begin your application, go to https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.
You may also want to view or/print off this FAFSA checklist, which tells you what information and forms you need to have on-hand to help you fill out the FAFSA.
2019 - 2020 Academic Year
The FAFSA for the 2019–2020 academic year (July 1, 2019–June 30, 2020) became available on October 1, 2018 and will be available online until June 30, 2020. You can submit a FAFSA at any point during the year, even if a semester is already underway. If you have had a change in financial circumstances since the semester first began, speak to a financial aid administrator at your school to discuss your financial aid options. To begin your application, go to https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa or download the myStudentAid mobile app.