When is the 2020-2021 FAFSA Deadline?
Are you a high school or college student who is applying for financial aid using the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid? If so, you need to meet the proper FAFSA deadline!
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Financial aid is an area where you want to be first in line, as opposed to last in line. In fact, some types of financial aid, such as the Federal SEOG award, may depend on when exactly you apply.
Remember, you will also have to apply for financial aid for each year that you are in school so these deadlines hold true for both first-year freshman students and returning students.
Read on to learn more about all of the deadlines you will need to keep track of (and what to do if you miss any of your deadlines).
2020-2021 FAFSA Deadlines
The three big FAFSA deadlines that students need to keep in mind for the 2020-2021 FAFSA are:
- FAFSA Opens: October 1, 2020
- FAFSA Closes: June 30, 2021
- FAFSA Corrections: September 15, 2021
State Financial Aid Deadlines for 2020-2021
Each state also has its own financial aid deadline for aid awarded by the state. Keep on reading to learn about the state-specific deadlines that you should know about!
|Alabama||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Alaska||Alaska Education Grant funds are available until depleted (so students should apply ASAP after October 1, 2020.|
Alaska Performance Scholarships are also only available until depleted. To receive priority consideration, you will need to submit your application by June 30, 2021.
|American Samoa||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Arizona||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Arkansas||July 1, 2021|
|California||March 2, 2021 (for most CA-specific financial aid programs)|
If you are applying for a Cal Grant, you will also need to submit a school-certified GPA by March 2nd.For many state financial aid programs: March 2, 2021 (date postmarked).
Cal Grant also requires submission of a school-certified GPA by March 2, 2021.
|Colorado||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Connecticut||February 15, 2021|
|Delaware||April 15, 2021|
|District of Columbia||May 1, 2021 (Priority Deadline)|
|Federated States of Micronesia||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Florida||May 15, 2021|
|Georgia||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Guam||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Hawaii||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Idaho||March 1, 2021 (Priority Deadline)|
|Illinois||As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2020|
|Indiana||As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2020|
|Iowa||July 1, 2021 (some awards may have even earlier deadlines).|
|Kansas||April 1, 2021 (Priority Deadline)|
|Kentucky||As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2020|
|Louisiana||July 1, 2022 (however, July 1, 2021 is the recommended deadline).|
|Maine||May 1, 2021|
|Marshall Islands||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Maryland||March 1, 2021|
|Massachusetts||May 1, 2021 (Priority Deadline)|
|Michigan||March 1, 2021|
|Minnesota||30 days after your term starts.|
|Mississippi||September 15, 20201 for MTAG and MESG Grants|
April 30, 2021 for HELP Scholarships
|Missouri||February 1, 2021 (Priority Deadline)|
|Montana||December 1, 2021 (Priority Deadline)|
|N. Mariana Islands||April 30, 2021 (Priority Deadline)|
|Nebraska||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Nevada||As soon as possible after October 1, 2020 for Silver State Opportunity Grant|
March 1, 2021 for Nevada Promise Scholarships
|New Hampshire||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|New Jersey||April 25, 2021 for the 2021–22 Tuition Aid Grant.|
September 15, 2021 for Fall and Spring terms.
February 15, 2022 for Spring term only.
|New Mexico||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|New York||June 30, 2022|
|North Carolina||As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2020|
|North Dakota||As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2020|
|Ohio||October 1, 2021|
|Oklahoma||As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2020 (funding is first come, first served).|
|Oregon||Oregon Opportunity Grant: As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2020 (funding is first come, first served).OSAC Private Scholarships: March 1, 2021.|
Oregon Promise Grant: Contact your state agency.
|Palau||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Pennsylvania||August 1, 2021 for community college, business, trade, technical school, hospital school of nursing, nontransferable 2-year program, or any designated Pennsylvania Open-Admission institution. |
May 1, 2021 for all other applicants.
|Puerto Rico||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Rhode Island||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|South Carolina||SC Commission on Higher Education Need-based Grants: As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2020 |
Tuition Grants: June 30, 2021.
|South Dakota||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Tennessee||February 1, 2021|
|Texas||January 15, 2021 (priority deadline)|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Utah||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Vermont||As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2020|
|Virginia||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Washington||As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2020|
|West Virginia||March 1, 2021: PROMISE Scholarship.|
April 15, 2021: WV Higher Education Grant Program and WV Invests Grant.
|Wisconsin||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
|Wyoming||Contact your financial aid administrator.|
What happens if you miss the FAFSA deadline?
If you happen to miss the FAFSA deadline or state financial aid deadline, you should get on the phone ASAP with your college’s financial aid office. Seriously. Get off of this webpage and immediately contact a financial aid officer to explore your options.
If it’s not too late, you might be able to appeal for financial aid and merit scholarships. Here are some tips for making your appeal, as well as an example appeal letter.
However, if you are in a situation where you have exhausted all options through your college, then you have three main options:
Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each of these options…
Scholarships are free money that does not need to be repaid (similar to need-based financial aid that you may secure through the FAFSA. There are many different types of scholarships for lots of different types of students.
However, scholarships can be a bit unpredictable if you will be requiring a large amount of scholarship dollars to pay for college. Some colleges and organizations do offer full ride scholarships, but these are extremely competitive for even the strongest students.
Ultimately, scholarships can be a good option if you received a strong merit scholarship from a college or if you were not expecting to receive a large amount of need-based financial aid.
If you have a high amount of demonstrated financial need and have not had luck with scholarships, a gap year may be your next best option. This will allow you to defer your college acceptance for a year. This means that you will be able to make your financial aid deadlines and qualify for the proper amount of financial aid.
The biggest downside to a gap year is that not all colleges will permit you to do a gap year (generally, you will need to apply and receive permission from the college). Additionally, gap year students will have to start their college education a year later. This can be unappealing for some students, but gap year experiences can have many benefits.
Finally, alternative financing, such as Income Share Agreements or student loans, can be an option if you miss the FAFSA deadline. The upside to this option is that receiving this type of financing is more predictable–virtually all students will be able to secure some sort of ISA or student loan financing.
The downside to this option is that both student loans and ISAs need to be paid back. This can be particularly true for students who would qualify for a high amount of need-based financial aid. Student loans and ISAs can be useful if used properly, but we always recommend that students sit down and work out the numbers to see what their post-college debt or income repayment plan would look like.
Next steps for students
- Submit your FAFSA as soon as you can (remember the FAFSA opens up on October 1st).
- If you are applying to more than 10 schools, you can correct your FAFSA to submit the application to more schools!
- If you are a current college student, you will have to submit a FAFSA renewal application.
- Finally, if your school requires additional applications, like the CSS Profile, you will have to submit the additional applications by the required deadlines.