It’s that time of year again. If you’re a college student seeking financial aid, you should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as you can. While the deadline for submitting the FAFSA is June 30th, many states and schools allocate funds on a first-come, first-served basis, and some states have deadlines for filing the FAFSA to be eligible for certain kinds of aid.
You don’t have to wait until your family has all of the necessary paperwork or has filed their income taxes to submit your FAFSA. You can submit the form using estimates, and then update the form to correct any discrepancies.
Be cautious about scholarship and student loan scams. Ads or solicitations from companies may claim they have programs that could make you eligible to receive financial aid, including grants, student loans, work-study and other types of aid. For a processing fee, they say they’ll handle all the paperwork. But experts caution: The only application that will determine eligibility for all programs is the FAFSA.
If you’re contacted by companies or visit websites that say they’ll process your FAFSA for a fee, do yourself a favor and save some money, too. Visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Aid on the Web for free information on preparing for and funding education beyond high school. You can complete the FAFSA online, as well as learn about other FAFSA filing options. You also can call 1-800-4-FED-AID.