Paying for college: Why file the FAFSA early?

We get it. You’ve just started your senior year. You’re busy making memories! And now people are pushing you to file the FAFSA. You may not have even chosen a school – let alone applied – and they want you to start thinking about paying for college? Let us tell you why it’s a good idea to file the FAFSA early…

First, what is the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) allows you to apply for financial aid for college or graduate school.

When should I file the FAFSA?

Anytime after Oct. 1, 2021, you can file applications for the 2022-23 academic year at You will use tax year 2020 forms to fill out the FAFSA. There is no danger in filing early.

To file, students and at least one parent needs to have an electronic signature, called the FSA ID. This step can be completed before Oct. 1 at

Why should I file early?

After you file, the colleges that accept you are able to send you an official financial aid award letter. This offer outlines how much and the type of scholarship and/or need-based aid you will receive. The earlier you file the FAFSA, the earlier you receive financial aid information and can start comparing your choices. And, filing early ensures you will not miss important deadlines, which vary from school to school, and state to state.

How do the colleges/universities receive my FAFSA application?

You can list up to 10 colleges to receive your FAFSA application. Add or drop colleges to your list any time until you begin college. It’s a good idea to start visiting colleges as an underclassman. However, FAFSA forms cannot be filed until your senior year of high school.

What happens after I file?

Students who are admitted at the college of their choice and have their FAFSA on file early should receive award letters between November and January. Colleges may follow-up with applicants and parents to verify the information by submitting additional household and/or tax information.

What if life changes after I’ve filed?

Due to the pandemic and other consequential factors, things can be very different when you begin college in the fall of 2022, than when you filed the FAFSA which is based on information from 2020. If you and your family experience change such as loss of income, medical bills not covered by insurance, loss of child support, etc., you should contact the financial aid office(s) at the school(s) you are considering, who you listed on the FAFSA, and ask how to go about reporting your changed circumstances.


The Bluffton University financial aid staff is committed to answering your questions and connecting you with the resources available to meet your goals. Feel free to ask us general questions about financial aid. Topics may include federal and state issues, the financial aid application process, grant and loan issues and any other questions you may have.

You do not have to be a current or potential Bluffton University student to use this service. Our advice is available to everyone!