Edmit logo

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

Featured Stories

Filter By Categories

No FAFSA, no financial aid. Check your deadlines and make sure you’ve filed on time!


If you’re depending on need-based financial aid to help pay for college, you know how important the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is. The FAFSA form is the foundation of all your need-based aidit’s the master document that both the government and your college use to determine your financial aid eligibility, and ultimately the amount of need-based aid you’re awarded.


Because the FAFSA is the first step in the financial aid process, it’s important to know the deadlines to turn in your FAFSA application. Yes, we said plural deadlines—you’ll need to be aware of the federal, state, and specific college or university deadlines, as applicable. (The deadlines may be the same, but don’t assume: You always want to check, just in case!)


The Federal FAFSA Deadline

For a given academic year, the U.S. Department of Education usually allows students to submit the FAFSA forms between October of the previous academic year and June of the current academic year, with the federal FAFSA deadline that same June. For example, the FAFSA for the 2019-20 academic year was made available on October 1, 2018, with a federal deadline of midnight CST on June 30, 2020.


Because of the volume of students applying for financial aid, pool of allocated funds, and the duration of the FAFSA application process, early applications are recommended (e.g., October of the previous academic year). According to Student Loan Hero, late applications typically are submitted when there’s been an unexpected change in financial circumstances that could impact need-based eligibility. To maximize your funding, it’s a good rule of thumb to get your paperwork ready early, and submit as early as you can (regardless of your finances).  


State FAFSA Deadlines

Because many state budgets allocate money for financial aid, especially for students attending their in-state public colleges, many states have their own FAFSA deadlines. Make sure to check your state’s FAFSA deadline early so you don’t miss a deadline that could impact your financial aid package.


Luckily, your research should just take a few minutes: The U.S. Department of Education has a state FAFSA deadline website, so you can easily find the deadline applicable to you. We took a quick look and saw that the deadline for Texas residents to submit the FAFSA for the 2019-20 academic year, for example, is “as soon as possible after October 1, 2018”; for Texas public colleges, the FAFSA deadline for priority consideration is January 15, 2019.


Another reason to check state FAFSA deadlines early is that additional forms may be required to be considered for financial aid. Inquire with your school's financial aid counselor or state department of education for specific requirements.  


Similar to federal FAFSA recommendations, early-bird submissions for state financial aid are recommended. In many cases, funds are only available until depleted, so first-come applicants may be the first awarded.   


College FAFSA Deadlines

Wait, there’s more! Your college will also have its own FAFSA deadline--this helps financial aid counselors determine student eligibility for funds within its own endowments and other money allocated for need-based financial aid awards. For example, Macalester College has different FAFSA deadlines based on student status. (Regular decision students need to submit the FAFSA by January 15, 2019 for the 2019-20 school year.) Contact your college financial aid office early in the application process to get their specific FAFSA deadline, as well as any insider application tips to ensure you’ll be able to maximize your financial aid package.


In some cases, your college may also require you to fill out the CSS Profile for financial aid consideration, and will have a specific deadline for that form as well. Again, inquire with your school’s financial aid office at the time of applying for admission so you know everything that’s required for your aid package.   


Remember, when it comes to the FAFSA and financial aid, know what’s expected of you in advance and plan ahead. As long as you get your paperwork in on time, you’ll be considered for financial aid awards—and then you can go back and negotiate later if needed.

Sign up for updates

Popular Tags

Financial Aid and Scholarships* paying for college financial aid Cost of College* grants and scholarships FAFSA Student Loans* Saving for College* college tuition federal student loans cost of attendance 529 plan college financial planning financial aid award expected family contribution taxes private student loans room and board college savings plan on-campus housing college applications application fees merit-based financial aid private universities public universities student loan assistance college expenses federal financial aid merit scholarships edmit hidden gems tuition discount budgeting for college financial need parent PLUS loan Salary and Career* southern colleges CSS profile college costs edmit team education expenses living expenses western colleges financial aid appeal income midwestern colleges off-campus housing affordable college college majors loan forgiveness northeast colleges application fee waivers degree programs edmit scholarship institutional aid loan repayment new england colleges choosing a major net price prepaid tuition plans SAT career choosing a college in-state tuition need-based financial aid need-blind colleges private scholarships qualified higher education expenses repayment plans tuition guarantee work-study 401k ACT UGMA UTMA budget college ranking systems discretionary income education savings accounts fees full ride scholarship grants great lakes region colleges international students investment ivy league schools mid-east region colleges need-aware colleges plains region colleges rocky mountain schools southeastern colleges southwestern colleges tuition payment plans 568 presidents group Inversant MEFA applying to college asset protection allowance best price campus life college advisor college deposit college search college spending concurrent enrollment cost by region cost by state crowdfunding educational expenses esports fee waivers financial literacy fraternities and sororities free tuition full tuition gap year health insurance options home equity loan liberal arts degree line of credit medical expenses military benefits out-of-state students out-of-state tuition percent need met private college consultant retirement savings saving school-based scholarships small business standardized testing state aid state schools student bank accounts student loan debt student organizations title IV schools travel expenses tuition decreases tuition increases tuition reciprocity undocumented students