Whether you're a high school senior or a current college student, you've probably got more than enough to juggle with daily schoolwork, various exams, extracurricular activities and after-school jobs. Add to that boatload of responsibilities various forms and applications to further your education, and life can become overwhelming.
Once you've completed the application, it's easy to think you're finished with the whole thing or be tempted to put it off until later. But the FAFSA is just one part of the financial aid process, and you jeopardize your chances of even attending college in the upcoming school year if you fail to follow up on your FAFSA. You may not get enough money to cover your tuition and other costs like room and board, and that can shut you out of going to school for the upcoming academic year. Or, you may end up racking up student loan debt when you could have received scholarships, grants or work-study funds had you been more ardent in seeing your FAFSA through.
One way to stay on top of FAFSA follow-up is to put reminders on your calendar and wireless devices. Set up reminders to alert you to log in to your fafsa.gov account and check the status of your application. You can even print out a time line or list of important dates and post it where you'll see it every day. If you struggle with remembering tasks or have poor organizational skills, enlist a family member or friend to remind you to periodically check your FAFSA online.
One more thing: The sooner you complete your initial FAFSA application, then follow up every few days until you receive your final Student Aid Report (SAR), the better your chances of receiving the most money for school. Although the official deadline for applying is June 30, grants and scholarships -- the money you don't have to repay -- get doled out on a first-come, first-served basis at the start of each calendar year (Jan. 1). These funds typically run out as soon as February or March in offers to students for the following school year.
For more information on FAFSA follow-up, deadlines and related topics, explore the links on the next page.