If you are filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the first time or for the upcoming school year, there are a few important deadlines you must meet. In order to qualify for federal grants, scholarships, work-study and student loans, you must fill out the FAFSA. This year, federal college aid applications are available from Oct. 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020.
Federal FAFSA Deadlines
All online applications for the 2019-2020 school year must be submitted by midnight Central Standard Time (CT) on June 30, 2020. Any corrections must be submitted by midnight Central time (CT) on Sept. 12, 2020. Keep in mind that states and colleges may have specific deadlines for the FAFSA. So, you must check with your financial aid administrator, state agency or the college you are interested in attending.
|Academic Year||Open Date||Close Date|
|2019–2020||Oct. 1, 2018||June 30, 2020|
|2018–2019||Oct. 1, 2017||June 30, 2019|
State FAFSA Deadlines
Many states have specific FAFSA deadlines or special grants or scholarships that they offer for residents. It's always best to submit your documents for student aid as soon as possible, (ASAP) as many grants and scholarships are only awarded until funds are depleted, meaning first come, first served. For priority consideration with most states, submit your application by the date specified, and if you're unsure of the date, contact your financial aid administrator or your state agency. Additional forms may be required for many of the scholarships and grants.
|Alabama||Check with financial aid administrator|
|American Samoa||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Arizona||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Colorado||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Delaware||April 15, 2019*|
|District of Columbia|
|Federated States of Micronesia||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Florida||May 15, 2019 (date processed)|
|Georgia||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Guam||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Hawaii||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Illinois||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018|
|Kentucky||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018|
|Louisiana||July 1, 2020 (July 1, 2019, recommended)|
|Maine||May 1, 2019*|
|Marshall Islands||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Maryland||March 1, 2019*|
|Massachusetts||May 1, 2019* (for priority consideration)|
|Michigan||March 1, 2019*|
|Minnesota||30 days after term starts*|
|Missouri||Feb. 1, 2019 (for priority consideration; applications accepted through April 1, 2019)|
|Montana||Check with financial aid administrator|
|N. Mariana Islands||April 30, 2019* (for priority consideration)|
|Nebraska||Check with financial aid administrator|
|New Hampshire||Check with financial aid administrator|
|New Mexico||Check with financial aid administrator|
|New York||June 30, 2020*|
|North Carolina||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018|
|North Dakota||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018|
|Ohio||Oct. 1, 2019*|
|Oklahoma||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018|
|Palau||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Puerto Rico||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Rhode Island||Check with financial aid administrator|
|South Dakota||Check with financial aid administrator|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Utah||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Vermont||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018|
|Virginia||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Washington||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018|
|Wisconsin||Check with financial aid administrator|
|Wyoming||Check with financial aid administrator|
*Must be completed by midnight, Central Time
1 If you are a non-citizen without a Social Security card or had one issued through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, you should fill out the California Dream Act Application. You do not need to fill out a FAFSA to be eligible for California student aid. Contact your financial aid administrator or the California Student Aid Commission for more information.
For more detailed information, check out the official state deadlines.
How to Fill Out the FAFSA
All students should fill out the FAFSA to see if they qualify for scholarships, grants or federal loans. Even if you don't believe you will qualify for aid based on your and your parents' income, it doesn't hurt to fill out the form. Plan on the FAFSA application taking about 60 minutes to fill out in its entirety.
First, you'll want to go to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) website or use the myStudentAid mobile app and log in or create an account using your FSA ID. If you don't already have an FSA ID, get one here. It should take about 10 minutes to create. Parents will need to create their own FSA ID.
Before you start the process, there are a few things you'll need to make sure you have with you.
Your Social Security number or alien registration number
Your (or your parents’) federal income tax returns and W-2s
Your (or your parents’) bank statements
An FSA ID
Filling Out the Form
Sign into the FAFSA form by entering your FSA ID or student information, and choose which year you’ll require federal aid, either the 2018-2019 school year or the 2019-2020 school year. If you have the option to complete a "renewal" FAFSA form, choose that option to have your demographic information pre-filled. Be sure to create a save key so you can save the form and return to it later.
After you select the school year you need aid for, you will be prompted to the actual application, which includes:
Student Demographics: For this section, you must fill out your name, date of birth, Social Security number, etc. If you have already completed the form in the past and you logged in with your FSA ID, a lot of your personal information will be saved. Make sure you update any changes.
School Selection: Next, list the schools that you want your FAFSA information sent to. Add every school you are considering, even if you haven't applied or been accepted. You can remove schools at any time to make room for other schools, as you can only add up to 10 schools at a time.
Dependency Status: This section consists of questions to determine whether you have to provide your parents’ information on the form. The guidelines are set by Congress, and even if you live on your own and support yourself, you may still be considered a dependent and will be required to report your parents' information.
Parent Demographics: If you are considered a dependent, you must provide your parents' basic demographic information in this section. You can either sit down with your parents to fill this out or give them your save key to fill out the form. If you are not able to provide these details, learn what to do here.
Financial Information: For this last section, you will provide your and your parents' financial information. You can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to import IRS tax information into the FAFSA form easily or put in the information manually.
Once you're done, look over the form to make sure you filled out everything fully and correctly. Then, sign and submit your FAFSA form. If you're a dependent student, your parent will also have to sign the form.
After you complete the FAFSA, the schools you are applying to will review the information and send you a financial aid packet with details of what you qualify for. This is where you'll see if you qualify for scholarships or grants and how much money you're eligible to borrow for each university. If the federal student loan amount is short of the total you need to attend the school and you can't afford the rest of the cost, this is where you should explore private lenders or additional scholarship opportunities.
Important FAFSA Tips and Common Mistakes
If you are filling out the FAFSA, you should apply as early as possible, even if you are unsure of the schools you are considering attending. States and colleges often use the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for nonfederal student aid, including scholarships and grants, which usually have a limited amount of funding. Below, we have included some of our top tips and mistakes to avoid when filling out the FAFSA.
Apply for FAFSA
It is important to apply for FAFSA because you may qualify for a scholarship, grant or loan that you didn't know was available, even if you think that you won't be eligible. It is a free application that can only help you afford college. According to a survey by Discover Student Loans, over 50% of students and parents did not even bother to apply for federal aid because they believed they wouldn't qualify for it or didn't need it.
Have Your Documents Ready
It is a good idea to have your documents on hand when you are filling out the FAFSA, as it will help you complete the application faster. You should have your Social Security card, driver's license, W-2 forms, records of any aid that you received, current bank statements, tax returns, U.S. permanent resident documentation and any other forms you think you may need that involves you and your parents' citizenship, income and taxes.
It's difficult to miss the FAFSA deadline as you are given a year and nine months to file each year. However, many states recommend filling out your FAFSA as early as possible, since most states offer nonfederal grants or scholarships that have limited funding or early deadlines. States will give out specific grants on a first come, first served basis. The sooner you apply, the more aid you will be eligible to receive.
It's easiest to complete the FAFSA online because your information will pre-fill when you return to complete your FAFSA for the following year. Also, online applications are processed faster and the website will catch common errors that may delay your application. Still, be sure to look over your application before submitting it.
Avoid Common Mistakes
Errors on your FAFSA can delay your application, which can limit your eligibility for certain aid. In order to avoid errors, you must read all the questions carefully and take your time looking over the application. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid:
- Don't mix up your FSA ID with your parents’ FSA ID. Each person must have his or her own FSA ID.
- Parents must make sure to choose the correct parent number from the drop-down menu, meaning whether he or she is listed as Parent 1 or Parent 2. You can go back to the parent demographics section to check.
- If a parent is filling out the FAFSA, make sure to fill out the student demographics section with your child's information, not yours.
- Don't leave fields blank. Instead, enter a 0 or “not applicable.”
- Use your legal name and information exactly as they appear on your Social Security card.
- Be sure to list both parents if they live together, even if they aren't married.
- List your parents' marital status correctly you may need to include your stepparent's information on the FAFSA.