The 2012-2013 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is now available from the Department of Education. If you're planning to attend college in the 2012-2013 academic year, you should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. The federal deadline for the application is still a long way off, but many states (Illinois, Kentucky and Vermont, for example) recommend that applicants complete the FAFSA as soon after January 1st as possible. College and State deadlines tend to be much earlier than the federal deadline. It's important to realize that the FAFSA is required not just for federal grants and loans, but also for state and, in many cases, institutional aid. If you are hoping to get a low interest loan, a work-study job, or any kind of grant, you'll want to fill out the FAFSA.
The FAFSA was not available until January 1st because the form requires you (and your parents if you are dependent) to report your 2011 tax information. If you're like most of us and put of filing taxes until late March or early April, you may be tempted to put off the FAFSA until that time. Don't wait. A lot of financial aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, and you could be losing out on college funding if you wait until the last minute to fill out the FAFSA. You should either file your taxes as early as possible so that you have the necessary paperwork, or you should estimate your taxes based on your 2011 income. The FAFSA has a process for filing corrections later if your calculations prove inaccurate.Related Articles: