Is It Too Late to File the FAFSA If I Applied Early Action?

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By Mark Kantrowitz

September 28, 2020

It is not too late to complete the FAFSA, even if you applied to some colleges under early action. The colleges will prepare a financial aid package when they receive the results of your application for financial aid. However, some types of financial aid may be limited, especially if you missed state and college deadlines for the receipt of FAFSA information.

Unless there is a good reason to wait to file the FAFSA, you should not delay filing the form. One of the most common mistakes is not applying for financial aid or filing the FAFSA late. Students who file the FAFSA during the first three months tend to get more than twice as many grants, on average, as compared with students who file the FAFSA later. 

Students who file the FAFSA later in the academic year can still receive federal student aid for the entire year, even for previous academic terms during the same academic year. Retroactive disbursements of federal student aid for previous academic terms are permitted, provided that the student was eligible for federal student aid during those terms. Eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant is limited to the classwork actually completed, as opposed to the initial enrollment status. 

Payments for previous academic years, however, are limited to a maximum of $200. 

The FAFSA application season starts on October 1 of the year prior to the academic year and ends 21 months later on June 30. The college must receive a valid output document, such as a Student Aid Report (SAR) or Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), by June 30 or the end of the academic year, whichever comes first. There are no exceptions. 

If the student misses the June 30 deadline or is no longer enrolled, the student can no longer submit the FAFSA. 

Some states have earlier FAFSA deadlines for state grants. More than a dozen states award state aid on a first-come, first-served basis, until the money runs out. Ten states have deadlines in December, January, February or March. Some of these states will accept applications for state aid after the deadline, so long as funding is still available. 

Most colleges have two financial aid deadlines, a priority deadline and a regular deadline. Even if you missed the priority deadline or the financial aid application deadline for early admission students, you can still file the FAFSA later. The amount of available institutional financial aid may be limited, but you can still qualify for federal student aid. 

A good place to start:

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