Completing the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is your first step in financial aid. Some aid is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so the earlier you complete the FAFSA, the better. In addition, certain scholarships and private grants are also awarded based on FAFSA information, so it can be a good idea to fill it out even if you don’t think you’ll qualify

Use this timeline to stay on track:


❏ Create an FSA ID, which is your username for certain US Department of Education sites, at

❏ Prepare for the FAFSA by gathering financial and tax information as well as Social Security and driver’s license or government ID numbers.

❏ Mark your calendar with the financial aid deadlines for each school you are applying to, and sign up for any financial aid workshop your school offers.

❏ Research and apply for scholarships. Check with your high school counselor for suggestions and information about local options.

October 1:

❏ The FAFSA and CSS Profile® become available on October 1. Complete these early, as some schools offer financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis.


❏ It’s National Scholarship Month! Visit to search over 4 million scholarships worth more than $22 billion

❏ Once you submit your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). Review the SAR and make any corrections to your FAFSA, if needed.


❏ Accept your early decision financial aid package, if applicable.

❏ Make sure the FAFSA is sent to all schools you’re applying to. Applying to more than 10 schools? Once the FAFSA has been processed, you can continue to replace and add schools.


❏ Continue applying for scholarships. Talk with your high school counselor and teachers and see if they know of any local or state scholarships that might be a fit.


❏ Compare financial aid offers from your potential schools with the Award Letter Comparison Tool.

❏ Have your financial circumstances changed? Send a letter with new information to appeal your financial aid package.

May 1:

It’s National Decision Day! Notify the school you plan to attend and deposit no later than today.

June 30:

❏ Last day to apply for the FAFSA for those already in college and seeking financial aid for the year you’ve just completed.


FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover® Student Loans.

CSS Profile® is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this site.

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