The FAFSA is a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is used to determine how much money you will get from grants and federal loans. When you file a FAFSA you are automatically considered for most federal, state, and institutional student-aid programs.
A large portion of this money is given out on a first come first serve basis which means filing a FAFSA application as soon as you can ensures that you will get the maximum amount of money based on your needs.
Filing a FAFSA late however means you will be eligible for whatever is left, which can be nothing at all. In addition, private entities will want to see your FAFSA when deciding who gets a scholarship and any delays could cause them to choose someone else over you.
Another reason to file your FAFSA on time is if you get selected for verification you’ll want to allow some time to get the verification papers completed and still get the most you can from your FAFSA.
Schools also get a copy of your FAFSA and it lets them know how much you can afford to pay for college so they can make a plan that fits your budget.
Overall, it comes down to money. How much money you are given for college is determined by how badly you need it and how soon you apply for it. Any money that is not accounted for in grants or scholarships has to be made up in loans.
Loans can be terrible because of compounding interest. It can take years to pay off student loans. Ask yourself, ” Do I have a extra 20-30k a year I can spend?” and if your answer is “No,” do not waste any time in getting your FAFSA out.
If you are rich and you can spend the extra money go right ahead and put off getting your FAFSA out because you likely won’t get anything from it anyway.
The FAFSA is designed to help students who need the money to pay for college. If you are worried about making the deadline because you haven’t filed your taxes yet do not worry because the FAFSA is not very strict and it allows you to estimate most of the numbers as long as you have a really good estimate. You can use your parents last paycheck stub or anything like that to estimate.