Federal Financial Aid for 2020-2021 year or also commonly known as “FAFSA” now opens on October 1 which changed just few years ago along with few more changes I talk below that used to be opening up on January 1st. It is important that you know some things in advance and why filing Free Application for Federal Student Aid as soon as you possibly can is very important.

Let’s jump right in,

Firstly, it is important to file FAFSA early because I found that many colleges now do the first-come-first-serve system. Depending on your school, this is actually pretty common and to me it really makes no sense, but that is just how some schools operate. Know that Aid is not unlimited, so in this case whoever files first will get the most of the aid. Again, this does not apply to everybody but keep this in mind, which leads me to another point.

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Secondly, filing your FAFSA early can be beneficial in terms of knowing where you are standing financially sooner or in other words finding where you are standing award wise. Filing now will help you to get award details of the award sooner and be prepared.

Knowing your state’s deadlines for filing FAFSA is also crucial but generally the deadline is June 30th for majority of states and schools, but you need to know it for a fact because some states and schools have earlier deadlines, so keep that in mind. Check with your school’s financial aid office on when the deadline is.

Tax Information

Due to major complaints of last-minute filers due to taxes, FAFSA changed the way what tax information they ask for. Instead of asking you for your current tax filing information, FAFSA now asks for your previous year taxes or in other words filing for 2020-2021 will ask for your 2018 taxes information. So, you and your parents should have that completed by now. This new change was another reason for FAFSA filing being pushed back instead of waiting until end of the year or beginning of january to file.

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Even if you believe you won’t receive any financial aid, it is still worth filing no matter what. Another reason for filing is that I have encountered that many scholarship applications now require you to complete FAFSA before you can even apply for it.

Before filing you need to be prepared and gather information such as you, your parents social security, driver license numbers  bank statements, tax returns and W-2forms if needed. You and your parents will also need to create separate FAFSA accounts primarily due to your parents filing out their tax information separately as well as requiring electronic signatures in both your and your parent’s accounts.

To qualify as an independent student, you must meet some criteria below,

  • Be at least 24 on or before December 31 of the award year;
  • Be an orphan (both parents deceased) or a ward of the court;
  • Be a veteran;
  • Be a graduate or professional student;
  • Be married;
  • Have legal dependents;
  • Receive a waiver from a financial aid administrator for unusual circumstances

If any of these above apply to your situation, then you will just need to prove by supplying documents.

EFC – EFC stands for Estimated Family Contribution, so the lower the number it is the more reward you receive. Having a 0 EFC means you qualify for maximum amount of financial aid. Higher EFC number will mean receiving less amount of aid.

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Alternatives to FAFSA

If for whatever reason you cannot complete the FAFSA but need money, there are many other options available but you will be very lucky to find something to beat the federal set interest rate with other private loans but sometimes we need more money than what government gave us or even need to refinance. So, here are best alternatives below to check out


Credible is one of the best tools available for anybody to compare the rates among multiple lenders at once instead of trying to apply for each one individually which we know takes forever! I wrote a review earlier you can read on Credible and why it is the best tool available.

LendKey (Currently 2.01 Var,3.49% Fixed)

LendKey is truly one of the best lending companies due to its customer service and the rates. The company strives in staying in touch with its customers and help with whatever financial need you need with some of the lowest rates in the industry.

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