It’s February and Time to File the FAFSA!

by Todd Weaver on February 1, 2012

If you haven’t done it already, you may be “late!”

Today is a key date in the financial aid process around the country. The FAFSA is due for hundreds of colleges considering high school seniors as “priority candidates” for financial aid.

Are you ready to tackle the paperwork?


The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the form a student needs to file early in the new year to see what type and how much federal need-based aid he or she will be eligible for in the upcoming school year.

When filing for aid for the Fall of 2012, a student and family is requested to use their 2011 tax year information.

Unfortunately, most tax returns have not been started, much less completed, by the earliest priority filing date found at hundreds of colleges around the country of February 1, 2012.

Waiting to have your family tax return done so that you can file with accurate numbers, can lead to disaster.

In my past life as a financial aid administrator, I saw countless students shocked when their aid packages were not sufficient, or renewed simply because they missed the filing deadline.

Whether it be federal or institutional money that a student is applying for, there is a finite amount of aid available each year. Schools have filing deadlines for a reason. They have to be able to distribute the available funds to those who filed “on time” …

And then give whatever is left, to those who did not file on time.

The underlying advice from this post is to get your FAFSA (and ancillary financial aid forms) filed ON TIME, with numbers as accurate as possible. Then, when your taxes are done in a month or two, go ahead and update the FAFSA and the financial aid office directly.

It is more important to file on time with your best estimate for your taxes, than to wait until the tax returns are complete and file accurate numbers past the priority deadlines.

Check the financial aid websites of the college(s) your high school senior is applying to and make sure you meet the deadlines.


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