Understanding Federal Financial Aid and The FAFSA Part 3

FAFSA Deadlines

Financial aid is a key tool for many students going to college. However, it isn’t just handed to you. You must take control of the process and pay attention to when things are due where. In order to be considered for Federal Financial Aid, you must submit your FAFSA by appropriate deadlines. As an adult going back to college, you can’t rely on your parents or a guidance counselor to make sure you file on time. It’s up to you.

The current 2012/2013 school year Federal deadline for submitting an online FAFSA application is by midnight Central Time, June 30, 2013.5

In addition, each state has a different deadline for various financial information, including the FAFSA.6 You will want to be sure to get your application in on time to be considered for various state programs -- states use the information results from your FAFSA for financial aid qualification purposes just like the federal program.

Furthermore, each college where you intend on applying may also have different deadlines for receipt of FAFSA results. When you submit your FAFSA, you can list up to ten colleges to receive the results. If you need to send FAFSA results to more than ten colleges, once you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), you can make the information available to additional colleges through a variety of methods listed on the FAFSA website.7 Be sure to double check information deadlines with the college(s) you are interested in attending. Be informed and clear about a college’s definition of a financial aid application deadline. Some may consider the deadline when they actually receive your FAFSA, others may consider the date the FAFSA is processed.

When it comes to meeting deadlines, the earlier the better. Many states and colleges have early priority deadlines for certain programs. Some require forms in addition to the FAFSA. Sometimes, financial aid awards are only made until funds are depleted. Submit your information early, and you won’t have to worry about missing out because of a missed deadline.

What Information Will You Receive After Submitting A FAFSA?

After your completed FAFSA has been submitted, it will be processed and the results will be sent electronically to the schools you requested the information be sent to on your application. You will also receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) via e-mail if you submitted it online with the inclusion of a valid email address or by mail, if you did not.

The SAR will summarize your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the number used to determine your federal student aid eligibility, and your Data Release Number (DRN), assigned to your application for the US Department of Education.8

If you requested to send the results of your FAFSA submission to different colleges, and have already been accepted for admission at those colleges, you will be contacted separately by the financial aid office at each school. Each school will be responsible for sending you a financial aid “award” letter. This letter, or financial aid package, will include the types and amounts of all financial aid you are eligible to receive from federal, state, and school sources. Keep in mind, each school looks at the FAFSA results through the lens of its own financial aid program, and as a result, each financial aid package may contain different levels of scholarship, grant, work-study, and loan options. The most expensive school you are applying to, in terms of tuition, may end up being the cheapest after you receive financial aid. Do your homework to find the schools that offer the best financial aid.

5 Federal Student Aid, 2012-2013 FAFSA deadlines, 2012.


7 Federal Student Aid, FAFSA,2012.

8 Federal Student Aid, FAFSA What’s Next?, 2012.