If you miss the FAFSA deadlines, you lose out on federal aid and government student loans. Once the date passes, there’s not much you can do.
In 2023, much is uncertain due to the FAFSA Simplification Act. The last deadline, for the 2022-23 school year, ended June 30 as usual. But the next opening date, for 2024-25, is delayed until sometime in December 2023 due to the FAFSA overhaul.
Here’s your guide to NOT miss FAFSA deadlines.
What Happens if You Miss the FAFSA Deadline?
A missed deadline for FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, means a missed opportunity for grants and loans. There’s no way to appeal. Keep in mind there are federal, state and college deadlines, and each has an opening date and a cutoff date.
- FAFSA Application Ultimate Guide: How to Apply, Steps, Tips, FAQ
- Why You Should Fill Out FAFSA Even if You Don’t Qualify for Financial Aid
- Student Aid Index Guide: How FAFSA Uses SAI For Financial Aid
Federal FAFSA deadlines
The federal cutoff date for the 2023-24 school year – the one we’re currently in – will end June 30, 2024, the end of the academic year. The next opening date, for the 2024-25 academic year, begins by Dec. 31, 2023. The exact date is not yet set due to all the process changes. It normally would’ve been Oct. 1.
To have the best chances at aid, you should fill out the FAFSA as soon as reasonably possible after the opening date. To avoid the inevitable system glitches, wait a week and then file.
You want to ensure you’re eligible for all possible funds. That includes some money distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
State FAFSA deadlines
Many states have their own deadlines, and they may be earlier than the federal deadline. You can check state deadlines on the FAFSA site. Again, apply early in the process to take advantage of the most opportunities possible. Many state grants rely on the FAFSA.
College FAFSA deadlines
FAFSA deadlines for colleges may be earlier than either the state and federal deadlines. Most schools will list their priority deadlines on their financial aid pages or you can contact the aid office directly.
For example, you can submit early decision (ED) college applications as early as October 1, but for fall 2023, the FAFSA isn’t available because of the upcoming changes. When the FAFSA is available, filling it out as soon as possible – after waiting a week for glitches to resolve – will put you in the best position for scholarships for those early applications. After this application cycle, FAFSA will revert to opening by October 1 again. That would happen on October 1, 2024.
There are some states and schools that continue awarding aid to students after priority deadlines, but your chances get much slimmer, and you should expect that disbursement to be a lot smaller.
And if you miss the June 30 federal deadline, you’re no longer eligible to submit that year’s FAFSA form.
It’s important to keep in mind that your window of opportunity to get money will be getting smaller and smaller as the year progresses. Don’t miss the FAFSA deadline because there’s not much can be done once the date passes.
Missing the federal FAFSA deadlines means waiting until following academic year to get access to aid and loans.
The official deadline for filling FAFSA is June 30 of the academic year for which you are applying, but don’t wait that long.
Keep good financial records so that you’re ready when the next FAFSA cycle opens. Preparation is key, since colleges and universities use FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs.
At first glance, the process might look intimidating, but once you gain an understanding of the form, you’ll realize it’s not as frightening as you think.
If the reason you are putting off filing FAFSA is merely because the thought scares you, no worries! You can tackle the form with the aid of our ultimate guide to the FAFSA, which we’ll keep updating as more details are ironed out this year.
If you have technical questions about using FAFSA on the web, call 1-800-4-FED-AID.
Upcoming FAFSA Changes
Here are highlights of the upcoming changes.:
- FAFSA shortened to 36 questions from 130+.
- Application availability delayed to December 2023.
Introduction of Student Aid Index (SAI)
- Replaces Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
- Represents individual student’s payment capability, not divided among siblings in college.
Divorced Parents’ Filing
- Filing responsibility lies with the parent providing most financial support, potentially leading to a higher SAI.
- Includes spousal income if remarried parent provides the most support.
Automated Tax Data Collection
- Tax return data will be automatically collected from the IRS for FAFSA purposes, replacing the previous optional import feature.
What You Will Need Before You File FAFSA
It is very difficult to approach the FAFSA form cold, so preparation is crucial for the student and parents. Here’s what you need to gather:
- Social Security Number
- Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
- Federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. Note: One upcoming change is that the government will automatically upload tax information. Still, it’s a good to have your own documents for comparison.
- Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
- Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
- An FSA ID to sign electronically. Parents and students cannot share one. It can also serve as your legal signature.
Parental Information on the FAFSA
Dependent students who are filling out the FAFSA form will need to have to provide information regarding their parents. According to studentaid.gov, “A legal parent is your biological or adoptive parent or your legal parent as determined by the state (for example, if the parent is listed on your birth certificate).” Information about a stepparent who is married to the student’s legal parent must also be provided.
Final Note: Be Prepared to File Each Year
Remember that the FAFSA form must be completed EVERY YEAR, so make sure it’s on your child’s and your own calendars so that you’ll be ready when that time rolls around again next year.
If you want to make sure your child doesn’t miss the FAFSA deadline in the future, it is important to be prepared. Keep your tax papers and other important documents in a file ready and waiting for when the new filing period opens.
Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.
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