FAFSA priority deadline for Texas students is Jan. 15

Filling out the FAFSA is the first step toward getting many different types of financial aid for school, and finishing the FAFSA early is the best way to maximize college-award packages.

Even though the federal government doesn’t have a firm deadline as to when FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) applications need to be completed, all 50 states do, and for Texas the priority deadline is Jan. 15 – two months earlier than last year.

When applying for student aid, timing matters. Each year, the Office of Federal Student Aid offers more than $120 billion through grants, loans, and work-study funds to help students pay for higher education. Priority for this money will be given to students who apply before the priority consideration deadline.

Also, if you complete your FAFSA application by Jan. 1, 2019, you will be entered in a drawing for three $500 scholarships. The scholarships will be awarded in January.

Once you complete your FAFSA, you automatically will be entered to win.

Students and their parents can apply for the funds online at www.fafsa.gov. You can also fill out the FAFSA right from your phone. To fill out the FAFSA form on your phone, simply download the myStudentAid mobile app (iOS or Android) and fill it out on your mobile device.

If you are a foreign student or non-citizen, you may be eligible to be classified as a Texas resident for tuition purposes. If so, you may also be eligible to receive state financial aid. To apply for state financial aid, you much complete the TASFA (Texas Application for State Financial Aid). You can find the form here.

If you don’t complete your FAFSA, you could be missing out on valuable financial aid. But how much do you know about this financial aid application?

Here are 10 important tips about filling out your FAFSA:

  1. Completing the FAFSA doesn’t cost you ANYTHING (hence the name, FREE Application for Federal Student Aid).
  2. Prior to submitting a FAFSA, you must create an FSA ID, which serves as your e-signature. You’ll use the same one each year. You’ll need one for a parent. Tip: if your older sibling applied for a FAFSA last year, guess what? One of your parents already has an FSA ID.
  3. You need to complete the FAFSA each year you attend school in order to keep receiving your award.
  4. The earlier you submit your FAFSA, the better. Texas Grant Awards are limited, especially if you apply after March 1.
  5. For the Pell Grant, you can apply the day before your start college, but you won’t receive your financial aid until October. That means you pay out of pocket until you get a refund check.
  6. Male students must register with Selective Service in order to be eligible for federal student aid. Why? Because it’s the law.
  7. All federal aid, including loans, grants, and work-study, requires a FAFSA on file.
  8. High earners may qualify for some form of aid, especially institutional aid. Submit a FAFSA even if you think your parents make too much money.
  9. The maximum Pell Grant award is $6,095. Remember a grant is FREE money – no strings attached. Six grand will cover classes, books, and some spending money at Houston Community College.
  10. FAFSA now uses “prior, prior year” tax data. Students enrolling in Fall 2019 will use 2017 tax data.

Use this worksheet to gather all of the important information you need to complete your FAFSA