Financial Aid Application Timeline
Don’t wait until you’ve been accepted to start filing for financial aid—start when you apply. You can file for financial aid at multiple schools at the same time.
In general, “the earlier the better” is applicable when applying for financial aid. Some funds may be limited and it is a good idea to get your application in as early as possible. This applies to other types of financial aid, as well.
Try to minimize the time between receiving your notice of acceptance to school and the time you receive your Financial Aid Award Letter, especially if financial aid is going to play a part in your school selection. Apply for financial aid before you are accepted by your school(s)—in fact, many would suggest you begin your application for financial aid at the same time that you are applying for admissions.
You can apply for financial aid at multiple schools at the same time—just be sure to find out if there are any school-specific applications you will need to complete, as well as any additional deadlines. The Financial Aid Office cannot send you an award letter until you are accepted, but you don’t want them to be waiting on you to complete your application once you have already been accepted, especially if financial aid is going to influence your enrollment decision.
In most cases, you will need to apply for financial aid on an annual basis, and at many schools, that will mean applying in the spring for periods beginning in the fall and running through the following summer. There may be occasional exceptions, especially for programs that begin in the summer—in this case, you might have to apply twice…at approximately the same time. Be sure you check with your school to confirm exactly what year or years you are applying for, and when you should do so.
There are several steps you'll need to take when considering financial aid:
- Research loan providers for federal and/or private loans.
- Be sure to complete the FAFSA, if you are filing for federal financial aid.
- Check with your school regarding any institutional applications for financial aid and deadlines.
- Be sure any required documents are in order. Have a copy of your most recent tax return at hand—this will help you complete the FAFSA, and your Financial Aid Office may request it.
- Get an updated copy of your credit report and review it carefully.