All students who’ll be in college next fall – including high school seniors who haven’t yet applied for admission – should submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible (it became available October 1st) to maximize your aid awards from federal, state, and school sources.

The FAFSA is a financial aid form administered by the Department of Education that helps students qualify for loans and financial aid. Household data from the FAFSA –such as annual income and savings – is crunched by the Education Department to determine how much a family could pay toward college. Colleges also receive data from the FAFSA, which serves as the basis for their financial aid offers to applicants, as well as state agencies.

Many states and colleges apportion financial aid to those who apply first, which is why you want to apply as soon as possible. Students can find a list of state deadlines here.

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