The FAFSA deadline varies from college to college so you must check the financial aid office website for each target school to determine the deadline for that particular school.
You should consider your FAFSA deadline to be the earliest FAFSA deadline of all the schools you are applying to.
For example – if you apply to six schools and five have a deadline of February 15th but the sixth has a deadline of February 1st, you should complete and submit the FAFSA no later than February 1st.
Download the Financial Aid Application Manager from the Worksheet Library and use it to track your FAFSA deadlines.
Important FAFSA Update
Recent changes to the FAFSA process make it much easier to file the FAFSA early.
1. The FAFSA is now available beginning on October 1 each year.
2. Students and parents are now asked to report report actual income information from the “prior, prior year” rather than estimates from prior year. In plain english, this means that applicants for fall 2021 will report income information from the 2019 federal tax return instead of having to provide estimates of 2020 income before that tax return is filed.
Q & A
Can I submit the FAFSA before the school deadlines?
Yes. The FAFSA is now available beginning on October 1st of each year. So, if you are applying for admission to a program that begins in the fall of 2021, you can complete the FAFSA as early as October 1, 2020.
Should I just complete the FAFSA as close to October 1st as possible?
Yes. There is no downside to submitting the FAFSA early. It’s free. And there are a few states that have a finite budget and award State Aid on a first come first serve basis using the FAFSA to determine eligibility.
How many colleges can I send my FAFSA information to at one time?
You can submit the FAFSA to a maximum of ten schools at one time.
How does the Department of Education know where to send my FAFSA information?
Every school has a unique six-digit school code that you enter when you complete the FAFSA form. Once your FAFSA processing is completed your data is sent electronically to each school you have listed.
What if I am applying to more than 10 colleges?
You should list the 10 schools with the earliest deadlines on the original FAFSA. After you are notified by the federal processor that your FAFSA has been processed and the data sent to the first ten schools, return to the FAFSA on the Web site and use the “add schools” function to delete some of the original school codes and add the new ones.
How will I know when my FAFSA has been successfully processed and transmitted to my schools?
First you will receive an email from Federal Student Aid Programs telling you that the FAFSA was successfully processed. This will usually happen 24-48 hours after you submit FAFSA on the Web. A day or two later you will receive a second email notifying you that your FAFSA information has been successfully transmitted to the schools you listed.
Who receives these emails from the Dept. of Education about my FAFSA information?
The confirmation emails go to the student email address listed on the FAFSA, not the parent email address.
What if I don’t have an email address?
You should obtain an email address. It will make the process much easier.
How do I know that my FAFSA record has actually been received by each school?
It is up to you to check that each college has successfully uploaded your FAFSA record. Many colleges allow you to check online for the status of all required financial aid application materials – including the FAFSA – but at some schools you will have to call the financial aid office directly.
How long does it typically take a school to upload and process my FAFSA information?
Once your FAFSA information has been received by the school, it usually takes 3-5 business days to upload and process it.