If you are looking to secure state funding for your college education, then you had best act fast – many states are beginning to scale back their funding programs.
For example, six (6) states including Kentucky and Tennessee have slapped on “until funds depleted” policies on state grants.1 Those who apply for financial aid late thus risk getting absolutely nothing from the aid even if they are eligible to receive funding.
Other states are moving their FAFSA application deadlines up, like Oklahoma which moved its deadline to March 1 for this year. Oregon still holds the top spot for earliest deadline submission by requiring applicants to file their papers in on or before February 1.
Both strategies effectively reduce the number of students who can qualify for funding. One penalizes late applicants via a ‘first-come, first-serve’ attitude, while others hope to reduce the number of recipients by abandoning those who trail behind.
Some states have effectively decided to cut their education grant programs altogether. New Hampshire is doing just that because of budget woes, effectively making 2012-2013 school year the first year ever where application for state college grant is not available.
These changes have made it doubly important for applicants to apply for aid as early as possible – even those wishing to take the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The sooner the better, especially since states could run out of funding sooner while early filing maximizes the free aid you are entitled to receive once the new school year begins.
Another reason for getting the FAFSA as early as possible is to get more time to evaluate the paystubs, bank accounts, brokerage statements and tax returns required for the FAFSA process. This will minimize the revisions of inaccurate information later on, which is important since such revisions (if any) could negatively impact your student aid eligibility.