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Don't Miss Out on Money for College: File the FAFSA! Stack of gold coins

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial step for students seeking financial assistance for college. While the FAFSA deadline may seem daunting, it’s essential to know that it’s not too late to submit your application. Whether you’re a prospective student or a current college attendee, here’s why you shouldn’t delay in completing the FAFSA form.

Understanding the FAFSA

The FAFSA is your gateway to federal, state, and college-based financial aid programs, including grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and federal student loans. It’s used by colleges and universities to determine your eligibility for financial assistance based on factors such as income, assets, family size, and enrollment status.

Many students mistakenly believe that they won’t qualify for aid or that they’ve missed the deadline for submitting the FAFSA. However, financial aid programs have different eligibility criteria, and some funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. By completing the FAFSA, you’re ensuring that you’re considered for all available financial aid options.

Late Submission Is Better Than No Submission

While there are recommended deadlines for submitting the FAFSA, it’s essential to understand that missing these deadlines doesn’t mean you can’t still submit your application. Federal financial aid deadlines vary by state and institution, and some states and colleges have priority deadlines for awarding aid. However, even if you miss these deadlines, you can still submit the FAFSA to be considered for aid.

Keep in mind that submitting the FAFSA late may affect your eligibility for certain types of aid, such as state grants or institutional scholarships, which may have limited funding. However, federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant and Direct Loans, are available throughout the academic year, so it’s still worth completing the FAFSA even if you’ve missed the recommended deadlines.

Changes in Circumstances

Life circumstances can change unexpectedly, affecting your financial situation and eligibility for financial aid. If you or your family experience significant changes in income, employment status, or household size after the FAFSA deadline has passed, you can discuss these changes with your college financial aid office.

Examples of changes that may warrant a FAFSA update include loss of income, divorce or separation, extremely high medical expenses, or the loss of a parent. Colleges and universities have processes in place to review and adjust financial aid awards based on updated information, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your school’s financial aid office if your circumstances change.

How to Complete the FAFSA

To complete the FAFSA, you’ll need to gather information about your income, assets, and household size, as well as any relevant tax documents. You can fill out the FAFSA online at using your FSA ID, which serves as your electronic signature. The FAFSA is normally available starting October 1 for the following academic year, and you can submit it any time before the end of the academic year.

If you need assistance or have questions about the FAFSA, reach out to your school’s financial aid office or visit the Federal Student Aid website for guidance and resources. Many colleges and community organizations offer FAFSA completion workshops and events to help students navigate the application process.  Additionally, you can contact any of the EducationQuest locations in Nebraska for free help.


Completing the FAFSA is a crucial step in securing financial assistance for college, and it’s not too late to submit your application. Whether you’re a high school senior, a returning student, or a graduate student, don’t let missed deadlines deter you from applying for aid. Take advantage of all available resources and support to complete the FAFSA and maximize your financial aid opportunities. Remember, every dollar of aid you receive can help make college more affordable and accessible.

By Lori Caffery