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Applying for financial aid is free. It is also a fairly easy and painless process available through the Department of Education website. Each student who wants to be considered for financial aid needs to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) indicating which schools should receive a copy of the results. Based on those results, your school will determine your eligibility for financial aid.
Since financial awards and options have a limited amount of funds available to distribute between many college students, your best bet is to apply early. In addition, many states have early cutoff dates for state financial aid awards. While applications can be submitted beginning January 1 of each year, this may be before you have been able to complete your taxes for the previous year. In these cases, you can submit your estimated financial information and make corrections to it later.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|