Those who file the FAFSA early are more likely to receive their school-based financial aid awards with their college acceptance letters. While your federal aid will be the same no matter where you attend college, you can send your FAFSA information to several schools to see which will give you the best school-based aid package. Doing so early will allow you to compare offers and appeal if necessary. If you apply for the FAFSA late, you not only risk a smaller award to begin with, but you also have less opportunity to “shop around” and submit a successful appeal letter. A quarter of parents surveyed by Discover Student Loans say they’ll appeal their financial aid decision because of previous award amounts and pandemic-induced changes in family finances. In speaking about the survey, Chagas emphasizes that there tends to be more money available early in the process, so students should make the FAFSA a priority. Murphy agrees. “Filing early makes sure you’re in the running to receive as many awards as possible,” he says. “We see students that get [aid] one year, but not the next.” They don’t lose out on aid because they no longer qualify, Murphy explains. They just waited too long.
Cecilia Clark a writer at NerdWallet.
The article The FAFSA Just Opened: Why You Should Apply Now originally appeared on NerdWallet on October 1, 2020.
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