September – October
Have your child request college applications and financial aid information from schools in which they have an interest.
Establish a summary sheet of academic and financial aid deadlines for these schools. The two deadlines will likely be different.
Apply for Federal Student Aid IDs (FSAIDs) for both student and parent through the FSAID website (www.FSAID.ed.gov). The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is filed electronically. You will need the FSA IDs to sign the FAFSA electronically before you file it.
Collect and compile income and asset figures for you and your child that are necessary to complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Deadlines are approaching.
The FAFSA IS NOT AVAIALABLE UNTIL OCTOBER 1st.
If you submit the FAFSA before October 1st, you will inadvertently be completing the wrong year’s application.
Be sure to choose the correct college year. The application for two academic years will be available.
While the FAFSA is AVAILABLE, each college sets their own priority deadline for the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Many colleges have not updated their website to indicate financial aid deadlines for freshmen entering in the fall.
It is likely that priority deadlines for the FAFSA and CSS Profile will be between the middle of November and the end of February. Make sure the application is received in time to meet these deadlines. Early Decision and Early Action financial aid forms will be due earlier.
Apply for outside (non-university) scholarships in time to meet their deadlines as well.
Review everything above and complete all open items.
Early decision and early action candidates should receive a financial aid award letter along with their acceptance. Be sure to review this letter.
It is likely that most priority deadlines for the FAFSA and CSS Profile will be in January and February (if not earlier). Make sure the application is received in time to meet these deadlines.
It is likely that priority deadlines for the FAFSA and CSS Profile will be by the end February (if not earlier). Make sure the application is received in time to meet these deadlines.
The Student Aid Report (SAR) should arrive anywhere from two to four weeks after the FAFSA is submitted. The EFC figure is printed on the front page at the upper right.
Verify that the schools to which your child applied were forwarded the financial aid application.
Financial aid appeals are usually made in person in March and April.
Admission decisions and financial aid award letters arrive this month.
Read the aid award letters carefully and be sure to meet deadlines for accepting awards.
If full need has not been met, or if your family's financial circumstances have changed, consider appealing the aid award.
Your child should make a final decision, mail the enrollment form and deposit check to the final-choice college before May 1, the reply deadline for most colleges.
If it will be difficult for your family to pay the EFC for the semester, it's time to start pursuing alternatives, such as parent loans or private loans, to close the financial aid gap.
If student loans are part of the financial aid package, the college will send instructions about the loan application process. Your child will need to complete and sign a form called the Master Promissory Note (MPN) to receive Stafford or Direct Loan funds.