The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) deadline is important, but waiting until the last minute to apply has consequences. The sooner you apply, the more financial aid you can receive. That’s why the FAFSA opening date is arguably more important than the deadline.
The FAFSA starts accepting applications every Oct. 1 and closes June 30. While June 30 is the federal deadline, each institution has different deadlines. Here’s what you need to know about FAFSA deadlines for 2021 and beyond.
What to know when filing your FAFSA for next year close to Oct. 1
The FAFSA is available starting Oct. 1 the year before you plan to enroll. For example, if you’re attending college for the 2021-22 academic year, the FAFSA opened up on Oct. 1, 2020. If you’re enrolling for the 2022-23 school year, the FAFSA will be available on Oct. 1, 2021.
Aid is given on a first-come, first-served basis. That means that if you apply soon after the Oct. 1 opening date, you may be able to receive more aid based on your expected family contribution (EFC). If you’re looking for federal aid while you’re in school, you’ll need to complete the FAFSA every year.
What to know when filing your FAFSA for next year close to June 30
The FAFSA application stays open through the end of the academic year. If you’re attending school for the 2021-22 academic year, the FAFSA deadline is June 30, 2022. But if you wait until then, you’ll miss out on financial aid for the fall and spring semesters. You would only be able to receive aid for summer classes in this instance.
State and institutional FAFSA deadlines
Many states have their own scholarships and grants for local students attending an in-state college. These scholarships are often limited, which is another reason to fill out the FAFSA sooner rather than later. Also, state aid deadlines are often earlier than the general FAFSA deadline.
Here are the deadlines for each state for the 2021-22 school year:
|Alabama||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|Alaska||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2020, for Alaska Education Grant; by June 30, 2021, for Alaska Performance Scholarship|
|Arizona||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|Arkansas||July 1, 2021 for Academic Challenge and ArFuture Grant (fall semester) and January 10, 2022 for ArFuture Grant (spring semester)|
|California||March 2, 2021, for state financial aid programs and Cal Grant; Sept. 2, 2022 for community college Cal Grants|
|Colorado||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|Connecticut||Feb. 15, 2021|
|Delaware||April 15, 2021|
|Florida||May 15, 2021|
|Georgia||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|Hawaii||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|Idaho||March 1, 2021|
|Illinois||ASAP after Oct.1, 2020|
|Indiana||ASAP after Oct.1, 2020, for Adult Student Grant and Workforce Ready Grant; April 15, 2021, for Frank O’Bannon Grant and 21st Century Scholarship|
|Iowa||July 1, 2021|
|Kansas||April 1, 2021|
|Kentucky||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2021|
|Louisiana||July 1, 2022|
|Maine||May 1, 2021|
|Maryland||March 1, 2021|
|Massachusetts||May 1, 2021|
|Michigan||March 1, 2021|
|Minnesota||30 days after term starts|
|Mississippi||Sept. 15, 2021, for MTAG and MESG Grants; April 30, 2021, for HELP Scholarship|
|Missouri||Feb. 1, 2021, for priority consideration; applications accepted through April 1, 2021|
|Montana||Dec. 1, 2021|
|Nebraska||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|Nevada||ASAP after Oct.1, 2020, for the Silver State Opportunity Grant; March 1, 2021, for the Nevada Promise Scholarship|
|New Hampshire||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|New Jersey||April 15, 2021, for 2021-22 Tuition Aid Grant recipients; Sept. 15, 2021, for fall and spring terms; Feb 15, 2022, for spring term only|
|New Mexico||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|New York||June 30, 2022|
|North Carolina||ASAP after Oct.1, 2020|
|North Dakota||ASAP after Oct.1, 2020|
|Ohio||Oct. 1, 2021|
|Oklahoma||ASAP after Oct.1, 2020|
|Oregon||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2020, for Oregon Opportunity Grant; March 1, 2021, for OSAC Private Scholarships; varies for Oregon Promise Grant|
|Pennsylvania||Aug. 1, 2021, for first-time applicants enrolled in community college, business, trade or technical school, hospital school of nursing, designated Pennsylvania Open-Admission institution or nontransferable two-year program; May 1, 2021, for all other applicants|
|Rhode Island||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|South Carolina||ASAP after Oct. 1, 2020, for SC Commission on Higher Education Need-based Grants; June 30, 2021, for Tuition Grants|
|South Dakota||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|Tennessee||Feb. 1, 2021, for State Grant and Tennessee Promise; Sept. 1, 2021, for State Lottery fall term; Feb. 1, 2021, for State Lottery spring and summer terms|
|Texas||Jan. 15, 2021|
|Utah||Dec. 4, 2020, for Regents’ Scholarship priority; Feb. 1, 2021, for Regents’ Scholarship; varies for other programs|
|Vermont||ASAP after Oct.1, 2020|
|Virginia||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|Washington||ASAP after Oct.1, 2020|
|Washington, D.C.||May 1, 2021, for priority consideration; May 31, 2021, for the DC Tuition Assistance Grant|
|West Virginia||March 1, 2021, for PROMISE Scholarship; April 15, 2021, for WV Higher Education Grant Program and WV Invests Grant|
|Wisconsin||Check with your financial aid administrator|
|Wyoming||Check with your financial aid administrator|
For some programs, additional forms may be required. For specific details about your state’s deadline requirements, head to the Department of Education’s website.
Why you should file your FAFSA early
Many university-based scholarships and state grants are only available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you wait too long to fill out the FAFSA, that money could be long gone.
Also, the sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll get your financial aid award letter from the university. If you haven’t filled out the FAFSA, the college can’t tell you how much financial aid you qualify for. This could make it harder to decide which college to attend.
How COVID-19 has impacted federal student aid
A survey from Discover Student Loans found that almost 40 percent of parents who did not initially plan to apply for federal aid have decided to because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes it even more crucial to apply early, since there will be more students competing for the same limited number of grants and scholarships.
Can I make changes to the FAFSA after I’ve applied?
If you discover an error on your FAFSA, you can log in and change it as long as the final deadline hasn’t passed. You may also want to contact the schools you’ve applied to and inform them that you’ve updated the FAFSA.
If you used the wrong Social Security number (SSN) on the form, you’ll either have to complete a new form from scratch or contact each school you submitted the FAFSA to and ask them to update the SSN. You can also change it by mail, but that process takes several weeks to complete.
Whether or not you’ve already applied for the FAFSA, there are other ways to find college financial aid:
- Fill out the CSS Profile: The CSS Profile is similar to the FAFSA and is used by almost 400 colleges to distribute financial aid. You still have to complete the FAFSA if you want federal student loans, but you may also have to fill out the CSS Profile depending on the particular school’s requirements.
- Apply for other scholarships: College grants and federal loans aren’t the only types of financial aid available. Look for scholarships from third-party companies and organizations. Sites like Scholly and Fastweb compile scholarships, but you should also do your own research.
- Appeal your financial aid: Contact your college’s financial aid department if your family’s finances have changed due to job loss, medical bills or another pressing reason. Many schools have systems for appealing your financial aid decision.
- Apply for the FAFSA every year: Financial aid is awarded on an annual basis, so you’ll have to fill out the FAFSA every year you’re in school.
- Consider student loans: While the FAFSA is the first step in applying for federal student loans, you may also want to look into private student loans. Before doing so, calculate how much money you would need to borrow and what your monthly payment would look like when you start repayment.