FAFSA Deadlines 2019-2020: When Should You Apply?

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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 YearOpen DateClose Date
2019–2020Oct. 1, 2018June 30, 2020
2018–2019Oct. 1, 2017June 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.

StateFAFSA Deadline
AlabamaCheck with financial aid administrator
  • Alaska Performance Scholarship – June 30, 2019 (for priority consideration)
  • Alaska Education Grant – ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
American SamoaCheck with financial aid administrator
ArizonaCheck with financial aid administrator
  • Academic Challenge – June 1, 2019*
  • Workforce Grant – Check with financial aid administrator
  • Higher Education Opportunity Grant – June 1, 2019
  • For many state financial aid programs – March 2, 2019 (date postmarked)
  • Cal Grant requires school-certified GPA by March 2, 2019
  • Community College Cal Grants – Sept. 2, 2019 (date postmarked)
ColoradoCheck with financial aid administrator
  • Feb. 15, 2019 (for priority consideration)
  • Check with financial aid administrator or state agency
DelawareApril 15, 2019*
District of Columbia
  • May 1, 2019 (for priority consideration)
  • DCTAG – Complete DC OneApp and submit by May 31, 2019 (for priority consideration)
Federated States of MicronesiaCheck with financial aid administrator
FloridaMay 15, 2019 (date processed)
GeorgiaCheck with financial aid administrator
GuamCheck with financial aid administrator
HawaiiCheck with financial aid administrator
  • Opportunity Grant – March 1, 2019* (for priority consideration)
  • Check with financial aid administrator or state agency
IllinoisASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
  • Frank O'Bannon Grant – April 15, 2019*
  • 21st Century Scholarship – April 15, 2019*
  • Adult Student Grant – ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
  • Workforce Ready Grant – ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
  • July 1, 2019*
  • Earlier priority deadlines may exist for certain programs.
  • April 1, 2019* (for priority consideration)
  • Check with financial aid administrator or state agency
KentuckyASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
LouisianaJuly 1, 2020 (July 1, 2019, recommended)
MaineMay 1, 2019*
Marshall IslandsCheck with financial aid administrator
MarylandMarch 1, 2019*
MassachusettsMay 1, 2019* (for priority consideration)
MichiganMarch 1, 2019*
Minnesota30 days after term starts*
  • MTAG and MESG Grants – Oct. 15, 2019*
  • HELP Scholarship – April 30, 2019
MissouriFeb. 1, 2019 (for priority consideration; applications accepted through April 1, 2019)
MontanaCheck with financial aid administrator
N. Mariana IslandsApril 30, 2019* (for priority consideration)
NebraskaCheck with financial aid administrator
  • Nevada Promise Scholarship – April 1, 2019
  • Silver State Opportunity Grant – ASAP after Oct. 1, 2017
  • All other aid – Check with financial aid administrator
New HampshireCheck with financial aid administrator
New Jersey
  • 2018-19 Tuition Aid Grants – April 15, 2019
  • All other applicants:
    • Fall and spring term – Sept. 15, 2019
    • Spring only – Feb. 15, 2020*
New MexicoCheck with financial aid administrator
New YorkJune 30, 2020*
North CarolinaASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
North DakotaASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
OhioOct. 1, 2019*
OklahomaASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
  • OSAC Private Scholarships – March 1, 2019
  • Oregon Promise Grant – Contact your state agency
  • Oregon Opportunity Grant – ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
PalauCheck with financial aid administrator
  • First-time applicants enrolled in a community college, business/trade/technical school, hospital school of nursing, Open-Admission institution or nontransferable two-year program – Aug. 1, 2019*
  • Other applicants – May 1, 2019
Puerto RicoCheck with financial aid administrator
Rhode IslandCheck with financial aid administrator
South Carolina
  • Tuition Grants – June 30, 2019
  • SC CHE Need-based Grants – ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
South DakotaCheck with financial aid administrator
  • State Grant
    • Prior-year recipients – Feb. 1, 2019
    • Other awards made to neediest applicants until funds depleted
  • Tennessee Promise – Feb. 1. 2019 (date received)
  • State Lottery
    • Fall term – Sept. 1, 2019 (date received)
    • Spring and summer terms – Feb. 1, 2020 (date received)
  • ASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
  • Texas public colleges for priority consideration – Jan. 15, 2019
  • Texas private colleges – Check with financial aid administrator
U.S. Virgin IslandsCheck with financial aid administrator
UtahCheck with financial aid administrator
VermontASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
VirginiaCheck with financial aid administrator
WashingtonASAP after Oct. 1, 2018
West Virginia
  • PROMISE Scholarship – March 1, 2019
    • New applicants must submit additional application at cfww.com
    • Check with financial aid administrator or state agency
  • WV Higher Education Grant Program – April 15, 2019
WisconsinCheck with financial aid administrator
WyomingCheck 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.

Getting Started

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.

FAFSA Checklist

Here's what you'll need to fill out your application:

  • 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.

Apply Early

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.

Apply Online

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.

Madison is a former Research Analyst at ValuePenguin who focused on student loans and personal loans. She graduated from the University of Rochester with a B.A. in Financial Economics with a double minor in Business and Psychology.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.