When Do I Need to Complete the FAFSA to Meet College Deadlines?

Find out when you need to apply for the FAFSA. Here, we outline important deadlines and application steps.

October 1, 2021

When Do I Need to Complete the FAFSA to Meet College Deadlines?

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For the 2021-22 academic year, the FAFSA deadline for college is June 30, 2022. After that date, students cannot submit the FAFSA form. However, some colleges and states set deadlines earlier than the official federal deadline. Rather than setting a deadline, some states advise learners to submit the FAFSA form as soon as possible.

A late FAFSA submission can cost students scholarships and state grants. Learners should research FAFSA deadlines for their state and school. The following guide provides information to help learners meet the deadline to qualify for financial aid.

Does It Matter When You Apply for FAFSA as Long as It's Before the Deadline?

Each year, applicants can submit the FAFSA form as early as October 1. For the 2021-22 academic year, the federal FAFSA deadline for college is June 30, 2022. However, learners should not wait until the deadline to file the FAFSA.

Many colleges and states set deadlines that are earlier than the federal deadline. In addition, states often provide college grant funding on a first-come-first-served basis. Learners should submit the FAFSA form as soon as possible to ensure their state does not run out of funds.

Do I Have to Wait Until Our Tax Return Is Out to File FAFSA?

Individuals can submit the FAFSA form before filing taxes. However, the FAFSA form requires tax information from two years prior. For example, the 2021-22 FAFSA form requires 2019 tax information. Most applicants will have already filed taxes before completing the FAFSA form.

Applicants can expedite the process by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which automatically populates the FAFSA form with the user's tax information.

Steps to Complete the FAFSA

Students fill out the FAFSA form to apply for grants, scholarships, and federal student loans. The following list walks through the process of completing the form before the FAFSA deadline for college.

Applicants should know FAFSA deadlines, including the federal deadline and the deadlines for their college and state. For the 2021-22 academic year, applicants must submit the FAFSA form by June 30, 2022. Many states and colleges set March deadlines. The FAFSA form is available on October 1. Learners should complete the form as soon as possible. Students and their parents must create an FSA ID to file their FAFSA online. To create an account, users provide their Social Security number and an email address or phone number. Users log in to the Federal Student Aid portal to fill out the FAFSA form. Applicants can submit the FAFSA form without an FSA ID. However, they should expect longer processing times. Unlike independent students, dependent students must provide parental financial information. A learner's dependency status impacts which documents they need to complete the FAFSA form. Students should review dependency status guidelines. Even learners whose parents do not claim them on their taxes may not qualify for independent student status. When submitting the FAFSA form, applicants must provide documents including tax returns. Learners also submit financial statements on untaxed income and records of other financial assets. Applicants also need their Social Security number and driver's license number. Dependent students must provide their parent's financial documents. Applicants can save time by gathering documents in advance. According to the Federal Student Aid office, most first-time applicants spend less than an hour completing the FAFSA form. After submitting the form online, most applicants receive results in 3-5 days. The Federal Student Aid office delivers results to the schools the applicant listed. Schools use the calculated expected family contribution to determine each student's financial aid amount.

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