The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, aka FAFSA and representing a large part of college financing, kicked off on October 1 instead of the usual January 1 this year. That gives students a head start on seeking the financing they need, but there’s one caveat: Those loans are on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t delay! Don’t rush through it, though, as that’s how mistakes are made.

Officials suggest getting the application in right away and definitely no later than early November–and that includes students still unsure about their college choices. Indeed, according to the U.S. Department of Education, up to 10 institutions can be added at a later time.


  1. A specific Federal School Code for each college is required; click here for a complete list, along with a FAFSA worksheet.
  2. An FSA ID for both the student and parent; for information and to sign up, click here.
  3. Also required is information on any child support payments, current bank account statements, and investment accounts.
  4. For the 2017-18 school year, the 2015 tax return is to be used.
  5. For many families, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will transfer the income tax information to the FAFSA for you.

So get going, completing the application as soon as possible and definitely before mid-November. It should only take about one hour or so in all, and you’re done!