Fill Out the FAFSA and Check Your Deadlines
To be considered for federal student aid for the 2020- 2021 award year, you may complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between October 1, 2019 and midnight Central Time, June 30, 2021. Any corrections or updates must be submitted by midnight Central Time, September 11, 2021.
Many states and colleges have earlier deadlines for applying for state and institutional financial aid. The deadline for 2020- 2021 for Florida is May 15, 2020. Applications for state and institutional financial aid for award year 2020- 2021 will start being processed as of October 1, 2019.
Because of the variation in state and college deadlines, it is highly recommended that you fill out the FAFSA as soon as you can after October 1 to ensure that you do not miss out on available aid. One thing to consider, however, is that the FAFSA asks for your tax return information for the prior-prior year. Often, this information might not be available until the end of January, at the earliest. Keeping this in mind, you may choose to either wait until you or your family files income taxes for the year or complete your FAFSA using estimates derived from the previous year's tax returns and other documentation. If you do this, you will need to return later and correct any discrepancies between the estimated values and the current year's tax returns.
The fastest way to apply is electronically, but the application form can also be downloaded, printed and mailed in. Hard copies of the form are available at many high schools and colleges, or can be obtained by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
Three Important Steps in Applying for Financial Aid
Step 1: Gather Key Information
It is recommended that you gather this key information prior to beginning the application process:
- Your Social Security Number and your parents’ Social Security Numbers, if you are providing parent information.
- Your driver’s license number, if you have one.
- Your Alien Registration Number, if you are not a U.S. citizen.
- Federal tax information from tax returns, including W-2 information, for yourself and your spouse (if married) and for your parents if you are providing parent information, using income records for the year prior to the academic year for which you are applying.
- Records of your untaxed income, such as Social Security benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and veterans benefits. Include your parents’ records if you are providing parent information; Also, include information on savings, investments, and business and farm assets for you and your parents (if you are providing parent information).
Step 2: Apply or Renew Through FAFSA
Step 3: Get your Student Aid Report (SAR)
After the U.S. Department of Education processes your FAFSA (which may take about four weeks), you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR will reflect the information from your application and, if there are no questions or problems, your SAR will provide your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).