Do I need to be admitted to a college before I can apply for financial aid?

No. You can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Service Scholarship PROFILE (CSS PROFILE) any time after October 1. You do need to be admitted to actually receive financial aid.

Most schools will have a priority deadline for financial aid. You will need to apply by this deadline so that you will know your financial aid award before you have to accept. Accepting before you know your financial aid award is generally not a good idea unless you have no problem paying full tuition.

Ultimately, it is in your best interest to apply as soon as possible for a variety of reasons. Many colleges will notify of your acceptance before the priority deadline for financial aid. The sooner they have your financial aid application, the sooner they notify you of your award, and the sooner you can decide if you want to attend the college.

Colleges may award aid as applications are completed. This can apply to both institutional and federal money. In the case of Perkins Loans, colleges often do not receive enough funding to provide loans to all eligible students. Therefore, the later you wait to submit the FAFSA, the less likely you are to receive institutional or some forms of need-based aid.

Some colleges require a completed financial aid application before awarding any merit aid. Getting your award earlier can allow to appeal decisions before you have to send in your acceptance.

You can’t submit the FAFSA until after January 1. Ideally, you (and or your parents) should have already completed and filed your income tax before you submit your FAFSA. If you will be delaying filing your taxes, you should consider going ahead an submitting your FAFSA based on estimate taxes and amending as necessary.

Leave a Reply