2012 -2013 FAFSA Deadlines
College tuition rose at nearly 5% for the 2011-12 school year or more than twice the rate of inflation, according to USA Today, and no one expects it to fall any time in the near future.
At the same time, federal college aid fell by $4 billion, increasing competition to find help with tuition that constantly increases, the USA Today article reported.
Those make two good reasons any prospective college student, new or returning, should engrave FAFSA into their memory and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, even if you don’t intend to pursue federal aid or think you don’t qualify.
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And you need to engrave the FAFSA deadline of midnight, June 30, Central Daylight Time into your memory, also.
FASHA Required For College Grants and Loans
Every type of federal college grant or loan requires completing the FAFSA, but filling out the application does more than just put you in consideration for federal aid.
Filling it out helps refine information about family income, expected contribution and financial information you may need for other grants and scholarships. Also, many state and individual college programs key their application process to the FASHA.
Federal aid for students, though it dropped this year for the first time in two decades, still amounts to $49 billion, according to USA Today.
Pell Grants, which can be up to $5,000 and average $4,000, are the main source of federal grants which don’t have to be repaid. But other grants include those for students whose parents or guardians served in Iraq or Afghanistan and those for students in teaching programs.
And then there are federal loan programs that can include the Stafford Loan, along with subsidized loans for which the federal government pays some of the interest, according to the Studentaid.ed.gov website.
There is also the fixed-rate federal PLUS Loan for parents who can pass a credit check.
College Aid Deadlines Vary By States, Type of Grant
All hinge on information in the FAFSA and meeting its deadline of June 30.
That may seem like plenty of time, but the U.S. Department of Education begins accepting applications for the coming year after Jan. 1 and some aid is based on first-come applications, the federal site said. Applying early also gives you time to fix any mistakes or add changes to your status that could help your application effort.
Another reason to get the form finished is various states impose their own deadlines and nearly 20 states require applications before the federal June 30 deadline. Some want their applications as early as February and March, according to the fafsa.ed.gov website.
Connecticut is one of the earliest with Feb. 15 if you want priority consideration, the site said, you may need to fill out more forms.
Not long after that come Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, Oklahoma and Montana with March 1 as a deadline, followed by California on March 2 and Indiana on March 10, the site said.
Delaware will allow you until tax day, April 15, as does North Dakota, while Florida’s deadline is a month later at May 15.
The state deadlines also may cover non-federal financial help, such as the Cal Grant, due on California’s March 2 date.
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Other state grants and programs have separate deadlines. For example, applicants can fill out a Florida Financial Aid Application by Dec. 1 for scholarships and grants the following school year, including the state’s Bright Futures program.
As if the various state deadlines aren’t scattered enough, many colleges have their own. It’s best to check with each school you are interested in attending, the fafsa.ed.gov site said.
And it’s also a good idea to find out the school’s definition of the deadline – whether it’s when the school receives the FASHA or the date it’s processed, the site said.