When Is the FAFSA Deadline, How Do I Apply for Student Aid?

The deadline for submitting a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form depends on the type of student financial aid for which you are applying—federal, state or school aid.

The Federal Student Aid government website states: "Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form allows you to be considered for federal student aid.

"In addition, states and colleges use FAFSA information to award their own grants, scholarships, and loans. But, since aid is limited, you have to meet the deadlines!" the website warns.

Here we look at how to apply for student aid through FAFSA and the deadlines for submitting the form.

When is the deadline?

Federal aid

For financial aid applicable to the 2020–2021 academic year, the FAFSA form must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on June 30, 2021. Any corrections or updates to the application must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 11, 2021.

For the 2021–2022 academic year, the form must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on June 30, 2022, with any corrections or updates due by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 10, 2022.

School aid

The FAFSA website notes: "Each college may have its own deadline. Check with the college(s) you're interested in attending.

"You may also want to ask your college about its definition of an application deadline. Is it the date your FAFSA form is processed or the date the college receives your processed FAFSA data?" the website advises.

State aid

Each state has its own deadlines for submitting FAFSA forms. "Many states and colleges set priority deadlines by which you must submit the FAFSA form to be considered for the aid programs they administer," the government website states.

The deadlines in some states have passed, while in California the deadline for many state financial aid programs for the 2021-2022 academic year is "March 2, 2021 (date postmarked)."

"Cal Grant also requires submission of a school-certified GPA by March 2, 2021. For additional community college Cal Grants: Sept. 2, 2021 (date postmarked)," the Federal Student Aid website states.

Students can view the deadlines for all states at www.fafsa.gov or find specific deadlines for their state using a search box on the website. They can select their state of legal residence and the school year for which they're applying for aid in the drop down menus at the website to see the state deadlines.

How can I apply?

Students can apply for aid by clicking on the "start here" icon towards the top of www.fafsa.gov and following the instructions on the screen.

The FAFSA form can also be accessed on the myStudentAid mobile app, which is available at Apple's App Store and the Google Play store.

Students are strongly advised to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID, username and password, which will allow them to sign the FAFSA form electronically.

"Your FSA ID also can be used to access the myStudentAid app, sign loan contracts, and access certain information online. While you can get your FSA ID as you're completing the FAFSA form online, getting it ahead of time and using it to begin your FAFSA form on fafsa.gov or on the myStudentAid mobile app cuts down on errors and delays," the FAFSA website notes.

Students can see how to create a FSA ID and what to do if you forgot your FSA ID login details at the FAFSA website.

Information needed to fill out the FAFSA form

The FAFSA form will ask students various questions about them and their financial situation. Below are some of the documents and information you may need to complete your application, as outlined on the FAFSA website:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your parents' Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
  • Your driver's license number if you have one
  • Your Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Federal tax information or tax returns including IRS W-2 information, for you (and your spouse, if you are married) and for your parents if you are a dependent student:

- IRS 1040
- Foreign tax return, IRS 1040NR or IRS 1040NR-EZ
- Tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or Palau

  • Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
  • Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate (but not including the home in which you live); and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student

For more information on the types of financial aid available to students and full details on how to apply, see www.fafsa.gov.

USC Southern California March 2021
Signage at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, California, pictured on March 11, 2020. The FAFSA submission deadline for many state student financial aid programs in California in March 2, 2021. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images