Paying for College

Financial Aid Checklist

  • Complete federal tax forms as early as possible. You will be required to supply financial information on the FAFSA. Make sure to keep a copy of each completed tax return. Filing early helps you get in line for any free financial aid grants, typically awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted.
  • File the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1. Students who file early have the best chance to get all the aid they may qualify for. However, some schools have priority deadlines, so be sure to check with each school's financial aid office. Your financial information will be forwarded to the schools you list on the FAFSA.
  • If you file a paper FAFSA, make sure it is filled out completely and legibly. You would hate to miss out on financial aid because someone couldn't read your form!
  • Don't limit your options on financial aid. Check that you are interested in student loans and work-study options. You can always reject them later, but checking them will ensure you are considered for every type of financial help. If you apply for a Stafford Loan by checking yes on the FAFSA, you will get additional forms and instructions after your FAFSA has been processed.
  • Keep a copy of every financial aid form you complete. Put it in a file along with your college applications and catalogs.
  • Contact the financial aid office of each school you're considering for any additional financial aid application forms and deadlines.
  • Each school you list on the FAFSA will consider you for financial aid and will notify you of its decision in late spring or early summer.
  • Financial aid awarded by companies and organizations often requires a special application. Contact them about forms and other requirements.