College Financial Aid - When To Start Applying

If your teen has just completed his or her junior year in high school, it is time to start applying for college financial aid. While your teen is completing the Common Application this summer and writing the college essay, you can help by supporting their financial aid search by encouraging them to request financial aid applications and researching scholarships, grants and loans online.

You can start a calendar for them that identifies all admission and financial aid deadlines, but encourage them to complete it so they are very conscious of the dates things are due. It will all happen very quickly in the Fall of their senior year.

You may not realize it, but sometimes:
  • early action applicants applying for financial aid will be required to complete an early aid application using estimated income figures;
  • some colleges require early submission of regular decision applications for consideration for merit- or need-based scholarships;
  • many programs require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), PROFILE, or both;
  • PROFILE Online is available beginning October 1 for early decision and early action applicants who are applying for financial aid; and
  • male students who will be 18 at the time they apply have to register with the Selective Service to be eligible for financial aid.
The FAFSA will be due as soon as possible after January 1, and the PROFILE is due early in February, so early taxes here you come! After completing the forms you will get a Student Aid Report (SAR), which reports your estimated family contribution (EFC). If you have met all the deadlines, your child should get admission letters and financial award letters in April.

Again, follow deadlines for accepting aid offers, and if your need is not met, you can challenge the award or call the financial aid office. Finally, final decisions and deposits are usually due May 1. Good luck and get busy!
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