Now's the Best Time to Apply for Financial Aid
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Now's the Best Time to Apply for Financial Aid

Angie Marcos

The March 2 deadline for FAFSA is quickly approaching: Learn why it’s a good idea to get your application in as early as possible.

Now's the Best Time to Apply for Financial Aid

Don't wait until the last minute! Applying early for financial aid means you'll be considered for all available programs. Photo courtesy of Fresno State


Have you submitted your financial aid application yet?

The priority filing deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) — the form AB540 students who are undocumented must complete — is Friday, March 2, 2018. This also includes the state's Cal Grant program.

Although there's plenty of time to file your application, you should apply as soon as possible, advises Wendy Ortega-Garrett, associate director of financial aid services and programs at the California State University, Office of the Chancellor, in Long Beach.

By filing early, you can ensure you'll be considered for all aid programs, including access grants and scholarships with limited funding, Ortega-Garrett says.

And while you can still apply for aid after March 2, doing so may reduce the likelihood you'll receive some awards.

Another tip? You don't need to wait to file your taxes — or for your parents to file theirs, if you're listed on their return as a dependent — in order to complete the FAFASA/CADAA. Simply use your 2016 tax information to apply for financial aid for the 2018-19 academic year.

After submitting your application, be sure to regularly check your e-mail and student online portals, as campus financial aid offices may request additional information.

About 80 percent of CSU students receive some form of financial aid. If you're unsure of the types of services and programs available and whether you might qualify, visit the CSU's Financial Aid site. Types of financial aid offered include:

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions by reading the Financial Aid FAQ. And for specific questions on applying for financial aid services, be sure to talk to your campus' financial aid office.

Read about six common financial aid misconceptions.