If you need money for college, then you need to know about FAFSA deadlines.
FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
The FAFSA the primary source the federal government uses, based on your specific financial information, to decide if you qualify for need-based financial aid, including federal student loans, scholarships, grants or work-study opportunities.
Many states and colleges also use your FAFSA information to determine whether you are eligible for state or school aid, and some private providers use it to decide if you qualify for their financial aid.
If you’re planning to (or already do) attend college or graduate school in the U.S., you should fill out the FAFSA. The FAFSA application is free, and you really shouldn’t skip it — even if the process seems intimidating or you think your parents make too much to qualify for financial aid. You can use our simple step-by-step guide to filling out the FAFSA.
But the FAFSA deadlines overlap from year to year and there are other deadlines to consider, which can all get a bit confusing. Use this guide to help you keep track of all the deadlines.
- 1 When Is FAFSA Due?
- 2 Which FAFSA Should You File?
- 3 Beyond FAFSA: Other Important Deadlines for Financial Aid
- 4 FAFSA Deadline FAQs
When Is FAFSA Due?
If you know you’ll need financial assistance to attend college — or even think you might in the future — you should fill out the FAFSA form. To be considered for federal financial aid, you must submit your FAFSA form between Oct. 1 before the school year begins and June 30 of the school year you’re seeking money, a 21-month window.
We’ll break down each school year’s deadline further, and explain why filling out the FAFSA as soon as possible after the opening application date may be even more important than meeting the FAFSA deadline.
When Is FAFSA Due for 2021-22?
You can still apply for federal financial aid for the current school year. The deadline for the 2021-22 FAFSA is June 30, 2022.
While the federal deadline is in the summer, most schools send out their aid offers during the previous winter months. However, there could still be federal aid available, and filling out the FAFSA for this school year is good practice for next year.
When Is FAFSA Due for 2022-23?
The FAFSA application period for the 2022-23 school year opened Oct. 1, 2021. The federal FAFSA deadline for this upcoming school year is June 30, 2023.
“That deadline isn’t until next year!” you say. It’s true, but you should submit your application as soon as possible since there isn’t an endless amount of financial aid. Free financial aid — think scholarships and grants — are often awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
You’ll likely still be eligible for federal student loans by next year, but remember: That’s money you’ll have to pay back — aka student loan debt.
When Is FAFSA Due for 2023-24?
The first day to submit the FAFSA for the 2023-2024 school year is Oct. 1, 2022. Why should you care about the first day? Many schools award their financial aid money within weeks (or days) of the FAFSA opening.
So even though the deadline isn’t until June 30, 2024, this is your opportunity to get your paperwork in order so you can be first in line for financial aid.
When Is FAFSA Due for 2024-25?
The first day to submit the FAFSA for the 2024-2025 school year is Oct. 1, 2023. The deadline is June 30, 2025.
Which FAFSA Should You File?
Because the submission period stretches more than a year and a half for each school year, many of the deadlines overlap. And you’ll use financial information from the previous year’s tax season.
So if you were applying for federal student aid to cover the school year starting in fall 2022, you could’ve submitted your FAFSA form starting Oct. 1, 2021, using your 2020 tax returns that were likely filed at the beginning of 2021. The federal FAFSA deadline for that school year is June 30, 2023.
Confused yet? Yeah, you and everyone else.
Here’s a chart to help you figure out which year’s FAFSA you should be filling out for each application period, plus which financial information you’ll use.
Choosing the Right FAFSA
|If you will attend college between:||You should submit the:||Using income and tax information from:||Sometime between:|
|July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022||2021-2022 FAFSA||2019 (filed in 2020)||Oct. 1, 2020 – June 30, 2022|
|July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023||2022-2023 FAFSA||2020 (filed in 2021)||Oct. 1, 2021 – June 30, 2023|
|July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024||2023-2024 FAFSA||2021 (filed in 2022)||Oct. 1, 2022 – June 30, 2024|
|July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025||2024-2025 FAFSA||2022 (filed in 2023)||Oct. 1, 2023 – June 30, 2025|
You’ll need to fill out a FAFSA application for each school year you need financial aid, so set yourself reminders to update and submit your FAFSA before the application period begins every year.
Beyond FAFSA: Other Important Deadlines for Financial Aid
The federal FAFSA deadline isn’t the only application you need to keep track of if you’re seeking financial aid. Here are more deadlines to know about.
State Financial Aid Deadlines
If you want to qualify for state-based financial aid, you’ll also need to know their submission periods. The deadlines vary from state to state and are often much earlier than the federal deadlines.
For example, in Florida, the deadline for the 2022-23 school year is May 15, 2022. So even though the federal deadline isn’t until June of the following year, you could be missing out on state funds.
Check here for your state or with your school’s financial aid office for the deadlines.
Although your state may require its own application, those forms will not replace the FAFSA — you’ll need to submit both.
School Financial Aid Deadlines
Many schools have their own deadlines for financial aid applications, including a priority deadline. This earlier deadline offers applicants “priority” status for admission, student housing and financial aid. If you don’t meet the priority deadline, your application can still be reviewed, but there will be a smaller pool of financial aid available.
In addition to submitting your FAFSA, schools may require their own school-specific applications for financial aid. Ask your school’s financial aid office for a complete list of deadlines for the applications to ensure you receive the maximum amount of financial aid.
CSS Profile Deadlines
In addition to FAFSA, more than 200 colleges and universities also require the CSS Profile to receive financial aid.
The CSS Profile, short for the College Scholarship Service Profile, is a more detailed application for non-federal financial aid created by the College Board, the organization known for its SAT and Advanced Placement programs. Here’s the list of colleges that require a CSS Profile for financial aid.
In addition to the CSS Profile, you’ll still need to fill out the FAFSA to qualify for federal student aid, plus any required state application for financial aid and the college-specific application — for those keeping track at home, that’s a total of four separate applications you may need to submit to qualify for financial aid.
The CSS Profile application period opens the same day as FAFSA — Oct. 1 before the start of the school year for which you’re applying (so if you’re applying for financial aid for the 2022-23 school year, the application period began Oct. 1, 2021).
Unlike the FAFSA, the CSS Profile deadline depends on the college, so you’ll need to check with your school’s financial aid office for its deadline.
FAFSA Deadline FAQs
What happens if you file FAFSA late?
When it comes to the FAFSA, earlier is always better.
But should you even bother filling it out if that school year’s deadline is approaching? In short, yes.
Even late in the year, you could receive retroactive federal financial aid, state financial aid or institutional aid. Although the “free money” like scholarships and grants may be claimed early, if a student declines the award, that money could be freed up to give out to another student later in the year.
What’s the benefit of applying on opening day of the FAFSA application period?
School financial aid offices begin processing FAFSA applications on the first day of the application period and start awarding financial aid packages within days. It’s not uncommon for all institutional aid to be awarded in less than two weeks. So submit your application as soon as possible — Oct. 1 is ideal.
It pays to think even further ahead if this is your first time applying for federal student aid. You’ll need an FSA ID, which is a digital signature you’ll need to complete the FAFSA form. To create a FSA ID, you’ll need your Social Security number, a mobile phone number and an email address.
It’s an extra step to create the account, and it can take up to three days before you can use your FSA ID, so it’s a good idea to create one at least a week before the application period opens.
What if I make a mistake?
If your financial circumstances change or you make a mistake on your FAFSA form, you can submit a corrected FAFSA until Sept. 10 of the following school year (so for the 2021-22 school year, you have until Sept. 10, 2022). Also contact your school’s financial aid office as soon as possible to let them know you need to update your FAFSA.
Should you apply for FAFSA before applying to college?
Absolutely. You can list up to 10 schools on the FAFSA form, and you can add them before you apply. For federal student aid, the order you list the schools doesn’t matter, but some states require a specific order for the list of schools if you want to be considered for state financial aid.
Any college you list on your application will have access to your information. Even if you’re only considering applying to the school, add it to the list. iIf and when you apply to the college, the school financial aid office will already have the FAFSA information it needs to create a financial aid package for you.
Do the FAFSA deadlines apply to private student loans?
The FAFSA form is not required if you’re applying for private student loans, so you aren’t restricted by the FAFSA deadlines.
However, if you need to borrow money for college, it’s in your best interest to apply for federal student loans first. Why? Two reasons:
- Federal loans offer multiple repayment plans, and you’ll be eligible for forgiveness through some programs.
- Federal loans are currently in forbearance — meaning there’s a freeze on payments and interest. The forbearance period is currently slated to end on May 1, 2022, but it’s likely to be extended. And although you should still expect to have to pay back that money, you’ll accrue a lot less interest if you get a loan during this period.
Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Social media and SMS writer Grace Schweizer contributed to this post.