Don't Miss Application Deadlines
Meeting Each College’s Stated Deadlines is CRITICAL to Maximizing the Amount of Financial Aid You Receive.
While a school may tell you they will accept your paperwork after the stated deadline, under no circumstances should that give you the impression that these dates are “If you can get it in by then” dates. And unless otherwise stated, these aren’t “have it in the mail by then” dates. The paperwork needs to be in the Financial Aid Office’s hands by the deadline. We cannot overstate the importance of meeting your college paperwork deadlines.
Key Points About College Application Deadlines
- Financial Aid Priority Deadlines
- Missing a Deadline
- Colleges Without Deadlines
- “You can get your paperwork in as late as the last week of August.”
Financial Aid Priority Deadlines
Most 4-year colleges and universities have a “financial aid priority deadline”. This is the date you want to have all of your completed financial aid paperwork in the college’s hands. If your paperwork arrives after this date, you fall to the back of the financial aid queue and miss out on the first distribution of financial aid when the lion’s share of the money is distributed. The buckets of money that the college dips into to complete a student’s financial aid offer are not bottomless and the students who have their financial applications finished by the priority deadline will be given preference.
Who is likely to get a better financial aid package? Student A who completed their filings on time and is standing in front of a full bucket of money with half of the other students? Or Student B who filed late and is standing with the other half of students in front of a bucket of money that is only 1/3 full? You get the picture.
Missing a Deadline
If you miss a priority deadline, don’t panic. Focus on getting your filings done and in the college’s hands as quickly as possible. Just understand that it will be much more difficult to get a good financial offer out of the school if you miss a deadline.
Colleges Without Deadlines
Some colleges do not have priority deadlines. Instead, they offer financial aid on a first come, first served basis. Our experience tells us that these schools typically do not have large endowments and are therefore not as generous as others. However, if you are interested in going there, it is still important to get your financial aid paperwork in to them as soon as possible. You want to secure your place in the financial aid line in order to take as much advantage of the financial aid they do have.
“You can get your paperwork in as late the last week of August.”
Scott knows a student who had been accepted into college and had filed her FAFSA and other financial forms late. Then, in May, she was notified by the school that there were errors in her filing and she was asked to resubmit her paperwork. Later in June, during the process of working on her paperwork, the student contacted the school with some questions. She was told by the financial aid representative that she had plenty of time and could get her paperwork in as late as the last week of August. What the representative failed to tell her, and what the student failed to ask, was what effect resubmitting that late would have on her financial aid. As you can imagine, the story doesn’t end happily for the student. While she still qualified for a Stafford Loan, there was no other financial aid money remaining for her to take advantage of.
Bottom Line: ALWAYS know each school’s application deadlines and get your financial paperwork done as early as possible. Use our Student Dashboard to view all your favorite colleges' deadlines in one location.