Many seniors are knee deep in applying to colleges right about now while their parents are knee deep in trying to figure out how to pay for the next four years. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form that determines most of the aid a student’s eligible to receive and is probably one of the more confounding parts of the financial aid process.
The deadline to apply for 2016-2017 school year is June 30, 2016 but each state and college may have different deadlines. You can see those here. Keep in mind, when you apply you have to use your tax return information for the current year (which is changing for the 2017-2018 academic year).
If you want a handy guide to help you unravel the mysteries of the FAFSA, check out Best School’s Guide to the FAFSA. Their guide explains eligibility, provides a checklist, calculator and more.
From their guide:
The federal government alone doles out nearly $170 billion in student aid each year and they decide who gets how much of that money based on the information included in your FAFSA form. And that’s just one part of the student aid pie the FAFSA form helps you cut into, most states use the FAFSA application to determine eligibility for state aid, and most colleges also use the form to determine how much private aid to provide to prospective students.
In case it’s not clear, this all means that if you’re thinking about going to college next year, you should definitely submit the FAFSA application.