Paying for college can be overwhelming and if you are looking for any type of financial assistance, staying on top of all those deadlines can be even more so. Besides keeping track of college application deadlines, scholarship deadlines, and financial aid deadlines, you also need to keep track of the special requirements for each one. It can be difficult to keep it all straight when you have so much going on. Using a calendar or day planner can help minimize the chances of missing a deadline. Sometimes however, despite all efforts, your federal financial aid deadline may still slip through the cracks. You missed some financial aid deadlines. Now, what do you do?
If you have not filled out the FAFSA by the deadline, these are the few options you will have open to you.
Take a Private Loan
The deadline for federal financial aid is different from that of private loan applications. If you’ve missed the FAFSA deadline, you can apply for financial aid from a private institution such as a bank or credit union.
While the interest rate may be a little higher, it can get you through the first year of college. If you have received any scholarship awards, you will just need to borrow enough to get yourself through the first year. We strongly recommend only borrowing what you need for your first year of college. Even though you missed some financial aid deadlines, you still have time to apply for scholarships. Private loans are typically a last resort. While you may already be at this point, keep applying for scholarships to decrease how much private loans you need to take out.
Apply for the FAFSA the Next Year
FAFSA has to be completed for every school year. You can apply for the FAFSA again the next year to fund your subsequent years of college. And you should absolutely apply for the FAFSA, regardless of your financial situation and whether you think you qualify or not. Filing the FAFSA opens you up to federal student loans and merit-based grants and scholarships from the school. Remember, federal student loans are still better than private student loans.
Make sure you bookmark the date so you do not make the same mistake again next year. When the following October rolls around, take the stress off of next year’s finances and make sure to beat the due date by getting in your application early.
There is a common misconception that scholarships are not available year round, and that once the school year starts you’re out of luck—not true! You should always be on the lookout for scholarship opportunities, and note that deadlines run throughout the calendar year. Just pay attention to their deadlines and when they go into affect, should you win some! There’s also no such thing as applying for too many scholarships, as long as you meet all the requirements. And we mean every single requirement. Even if you meet 4 out of the 5 qualifications, don’t apply. Remember, there are tons of students who do meet all the qualifications and are also applying. Only apply to ones you completely qualify for, and there are plenty of scholarships that fit you out there.
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