DON’T DELAY SUBMITTING THE FAFSA, YOUR TICKET TO HELP PAY FOR COLLEGE By Colin Beresford October marks the open date for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA – and college-bound students should submit the application as soon as possible. Completing the FAFSA allows you to be considered for federal, state and school-based aid. In addition, submitting it soon after the Oct. 1 open date will increase your chances of receiving scholarships and grants that schools include in aid packages. For the 2020-21 academic year, 56% of families used scholarships to help pay for college, according to Sallie Mae’s 2021 How America Pays for College study. Even if you’re unsure you’d qualify for aid, it’s still important to fill out the FAFSA. Most people are eligible for federal student loans. However, what varies is need-based aid, which is calculated based on your family’s finances. Since this aid comes from limited funds, applying early matters.
Here’s what you need to know about applying for aid sooner rather than later.
Get started on the FAFSA now Submitting the FAFSA, particularly if you’re the first in your family to do so, can be complicated. It helps to have all of the necessary information to complete the FAFSA before you start filling it out. And if you need additional assistance, there are online and in-person resources to help you complete the FAFSA. “Some colleges and universities do select students for scholarships and grants based on a priority basis, and when your FAFSA was received could make a difference,” said Joe Cooper of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, in an email. Cooper, the executive director of Student Financial Services, added, “If you are able to, completing your FAFSA within the first couple months it’s available is usually a best practice.”
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