Understanding FAFSA deadlines

1

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here’s an explanation for

The FAFSA deadline is important, but the day it opens might be even more so. The sooner you apply, the more financial aid you can receive.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or 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 2020 and beyond.

What to know when filing your FAFSA for next year close to Oct. 1

Oct. 1 is the first day you can complete your FAFSA form for the following school year. For instance, if you’re attending school for the 2020-21 academic year, you would’ve filled out your FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2019.

If you’re getting ready for the 2021-22 school year, you can complete your FAFSA this year, starting on Oct. 1, 2020.

Aid is given on a first-come, first-served basis. That means the sooner you apply, the more financial aid you could receive 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 last day to complete your FAFSA form is June 30. But that’s only the federal deadline. Many institutions and states have their own deadlines that will require you to submit your FAFSA earlier, depending on where you live and the school you’ll be attending.

Remember that students who submit their paperwork sooner have the opportunity to receive more financial aid than those who leave it until the end. For the 2019-20 academic year, 71 percent of families filed the FAFSA, according to Sallie Mae. This means that 29 percent of families are missing out on potentially free money and student loans with the lowest interest rate.

State and institutional FAFSA deadlines

Even though there are federal opening and closing dates for the FAFSA, every institution and state has individual standards as well. Some deadlines are as early as February and March, while some urge you to apply as soon as you can. Many institutions close once all the funding has been awarded.

If you wait until June 30, you might miss out on state- and institution-specific funds. Along with that, you might limit how much federal aid you can get through scholarships and grants, like the Pell Grant. You might receive a limited amount of free aid, although you may still qualify for federal student loans.

Here’s a breakdown of state-specific FAFSA deadlines for the 2020-21 academic year:

Alabama Check with your financial administrator
Alaska ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019, for Alaska Education Grant; by June 30, 2020, for Alaska Performance Scholarship
Arizona Check with your financial administrator
Arkansas June 1, 2020, for Academic Challenge and Higher Education Opportunity Grant; varies for Workforce Grant
California March 2, 2020, for many state financial aid programs; Sept. 2, 2020, for community college Cal Grants
Colorado Check with your financial administrator
Connecticut Feb. 15, 2020
Delaware June 15, 2020
Florida May 15, 2020
Georgia Check with your financial administrator
Hawaii Check with your financial administrator
Idaho March 1, 2020
Illinois ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019
Indiana ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019
Iowa July 1, 2020
Kansas June 1, 2020
Kentucky ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019
Louisiana July 1, 2021
Maine May 1, 2020
Maryland March 1, 2020
Massachusetts May 1, 2020
Michigan March 1, 2020
Minnesota 30 days after term starts
Mississippi Oct. 15, 2020, for MTAG and MESG Grants; April 30, 2020, for HELP Grant
Missouri Feb. 3, 2020, for priority consideration; April 1, 2020, deadline
Montana Dec. 1, 2019
Nebraska Check with your financial administrator
Nevada ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019, for Silver State Opportunity Grant; April 1, 2020, for Nevada Promise Scholarship; varies for other aid
New Hampshire Check with your financial administrator
New Jersey June 1, 2020, for 2019-20 Tuition Aid Grant recipients; Sept. 15, 2020, for fall and spring terms; Feb 15, 2021, for spring term only
New Mexico Check with your financial administrator
New York June 30, 2021
North Carolina ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019
North Dakota ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019
Ohio Oct. 1, 2020
Oklahoma ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019
Oregon ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019, for Oregon Opportunity Grant; March 1, 2020, for OSAC Private Scholarships; varies for Oregon Promise Grant
Pennsylvania Aug. 1, 2020, 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 15, 2020, for all other applicants
Rhode Island Check with your financial administrator
South Carolina ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019, for SC Commission on Higher Education Need-based Grants, June 30, 2020, for Tuition Grants
South Dakota Check with your financial administrator
Tennessee Feb. 1, 2020, for State Grant; Feb. 1, 2020, for Tennessee Promise; Sept. 1, 2020, for State Lottery fall term; Feb. 1, 2021, for State Lottery spring and summer terms
Texas Jan. 15, 2020
Utah Check with your financial administrator
Vermont ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019
Virginia Check with your financial administrator
Washington ASAP after Oct. 1, 2019
Washington, D.C. May 1, 2020, for priority consideration; June 30, 2020, for DC Tuition Assistance Grant
West Virginia March 1, 2020, for PROMISE Scholarship; April 15, 2020, for WV Higher Education Grant Program
Wisconsin Check with your financial administrator
Wyoming Check with your financial 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.

Next steps

If you’re still in high school and haven’t been accepted into a college or university yet, you can still complete the FAFSA as soon as you’re able. While you’ll need to list the schools that will receive the funding for your education, only the one in which you enroll will get the money.

While you wait for your award letter, continue to apply for other aid. Look out for merit-based or athletic scholarships, along with need-based grants. Plenty of business and organizations are looking to award current and future college students through a wide variety of criteria, including:

  • Race.
  • Gender.
  • Religion.
  • Ethnicity.
  • Socioeconomic background.
  • Potential major.
  • Employer or parents’ employer.

You can also look for scholarships and grants based on where you live and where you’re attending school (both high school and college). If you’ve volunteered or done community service for some organizations, there might be aid available based on the work you’ve done.

Make sure you’re aware of any aid deadlines related to the school you’ll be attending. You can make changes to your FAFSA form after you’ve submitted it. For instance, if you completed your form before the COVID-19 crisis and your family’s finances have significantly changed, you can update your family’s financial information. If you didn’t receive enough financial aid, you can also appeal your award letter to receive more money.

To continue receiving funding every year you’re in school, you’ll need to reapply for the FAFSA annually. Even if you’re already in school, applying as early as possible will guarantee that you’re getting the most financial aid available to you.

Learn more: