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Financial Aid

Word of the Day Wednesday: Financial Aid Deadlines

Each Wednesday, MEFA features a Word of the Day, where we highlight a word (or sometimes a phrase) related to the college planning process. This month, we’re focusing on vocabulary related to preparing for the financial aid process.

Today’s Word of the Day is Financial Aid Deadlines.

Why did we select financial aid deadlines as our Word of the Day this week? Because they’re the most important piece of information to have in the financial aid process. And actually meeting those deadlines can prove monumental in how much a family ends up paying for college.

The financial aid deadline is the date by which a student applicant should submit all required applications for financial aid. It can be found on the college’s website, usually on the financial aid page. Each college can have a different financial aid deadline, and the financial aid applications required by each college can also vary. Every school will require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), but many may also require the CSS Profile<sup>TM</sup> or a college-specific financial aid application.

As colleges and universities award financial aid, they will prioritize the student applicants who have submitted financial aid applications on time. Many schools run out of financial aid funding, so often only the students who have submitted applications before the deadline will receive financial aid.The financial aid deadline at most schools for students applying through the regular college admission process is usually in February or March. The FAFSA becomes available October 1st, however, so families can file their applications starting as early as then. Students applying to college through the Early Decision or Early Action process may have a financial aid deadline in the fall, requiring the submission of the CSS Profile (which becomes available on October 1st) or a school-specific financial aid application.

Why does this matter to you?

If you’re a family applying for financial aid for college, it’s crucial that you meet each college’s deadline for financial aid in order to maximize your eligibility for grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study. Review the student’s college list and research each school’s financial aid deadline and application requirements. Make sure to submit all applications on time and follow all application instructions.

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If you’re not sure of a college’s financial aid deadline, call the financial aid office directly. And if you have general questions about financial aid, contact us here at MEFA. We’re available by phone (800-449-MEFA (6332)) and email ( and are happy to help.

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