I came across a few generalized calendars for guiding students and parents through the financial aid process. You should also be sure to check with the individual schools that you are applying to so that you do not miss any deadlines.
Here are a few financial aid calendars that you might want to review to ensure effective management of the financial aid process:
- College Board Financial Aid Calendar
- Adventures in Education Financial Aid Calendar
- Mapping Your Future
- American Council on Education
Here is what they each recommend for January activities to ensure that you are on track. All the calendars agree on one key activity this month: FILE THE FAFSA!
- Income and asset figures from your tax return are needed to complete the FAFSA, so it's a good idea for you and your parents to prepare returns as early as possible this year. However, it is not necessary to submit your tax return to the IRS before submitting the FAFSA.
- If a college requires the PROFILE, start filling out the application as soon as possible to meet February priority deadlines. PROFILE filers who complete the application after January 5 can print out a FAFSA worksheet, which provides answers to most of the FAFSA questions.
- Sign and submit the FAFSA as soon as possible, but after January 1. Applying early improves the chances of receiving aid from as many sources as possible.
- If you are submitting FAFSA online you might find it helpful to complete the preapplication worksheet, available on FAFSA on the Web. This worksheet is designed to help your family organize your financial information for the online version of FAFSA and should not be submitted to federal processors.
- Don't forget to complete the institutional financial aid application for each college, if one is required.
- If you're applying to one or more colleges or scholarship programs
that participate in the Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC)
service, you may be asked to send tax returns and other documents to
the IDOC customer service address. IDOC:
- Is free to students
- Streamlines the financial aid application process
- Reduces costs to families for copying and mailing required forms
Adventures in Education
- Obtain income tax information and/or complete taxes early to help in completing the FAFSA.
- Complete, photocopy, and submit the FAFSA.
- Schedule retakes of SAT or ACT if you think retaking the exams might be beneficial.
- Schedule personal interviews at your target schools, if required.
Mapping Your Future
- As soon as possible after January 1 and when tax forms are complete (they don't have to be filed until April 15; you can use estimates), complete your FAFSA online (or go to www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov to download a PDF version of the FAFSA). Keep copies of all documents, including your PIN, in a file.
- If you can't attend financial aid nights, ask if you and your parents can borrow a video of an event from your counselor.
- Contact the U.S. Department of Education at 800-4-FEDAID for assistance completing the FAFSA and/or plan to attend a College Goal Sunday event (free FAFSA advice) near you.
American Council on Education
- Work with your parents to complete the FAFSA on or as soon after January 1 as possible. Send it in no later than February 1. If the financial aid processor requests additional information in order to process your application, submit it promptly. Check with your high school to find out if your state student aid program requires an additional application.