When Should I Complete the FAFSA?

"When should I complete the FAFSA" is a question that is both critically important and frequently made to seem more complicated than it should be.  In the the not-too-distant past it was reasonable to consider this question with an eye on the federal deadline, various state deadlines, and individual college deadlines.  Even now you may come across advice that is needlessly complex.
"As soon as possible after its Oct. 1 release, complete and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), at fafsa.gov, along with any other financial aid applications your chosen school(s) may require."
So this looks good, right?  October 1st is the target date, and the link is right there.  No worries!

My concern is that the advice continues as follows:
"You should submit your FAFSA® by the earliest financial aid deadline of the schools to which you are applying, usually by early February."
What's the point?  Why suggest to students (or their parents) that early February is OK?  In my experience (personally AND professionally) this suggestion is almost certainly going to lead to procrastination.

Will that lead to a missed state deadline?  I simply don't know.  Will it lead to a missed deadline for a particular college, or a particular scholarship provider?  Again, I simply don't know.  Do you?

What if you're not sure which college you'll attend next year?  Shoot for an early October FAFSA completion anyway.  Include your local community college and colleges you may apply to among those to get the results.  You can always send your FAFSA to additional schools as soon as you identify them.

Bottom line?  There is NO ADVANTAGE that I know of to delaying completion of your FAFSA beyond October of the year prior to which you plan to attend college. 

Don't wait!



Federal Student Aid