While deadlines vary from school to school, the financial aid process can be timely and confusing (especially for incoming freshmen) if you are not prepared. Here is a ballpark time line to consider when applying for financial aid. 

September through November:

  1. Gather all the documents you will need to complete financial aid forms. If you are not sure which ones you need check out our previous posts!
  2. Start looking for scholarships. Free money!!
  3. Meet with your guidance counselor, they can help lead you in the right direction when searching and applying for colleges. As well as, guide you in the right direction for financial aid.
  4. Apply for early decision, if applicable.
  5. Remember to complete a CSS Profile if you are applying for early decision.


  1. Obtain a copy of the FAFSA application. This way when January rolls around you will be prepared.
  2. If you plan on applying online, obtain a PIN number.


  1. File your taxes as early as possible. This makes applying for financial aid easier.
  2. Fill out your FAFSA. (Beginning January 1st)
  3. Notify your school's financial aid office of any special circumstances that may arise.


  1. If requested by your school, complete a CSS Profile.


  1. When you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), review it and make sure everything is correct.
  2. Make sure all documents required by your school are submitted.
  3. Review your financial aid award letter.
  4. Remember you can accept, decline, or reduce, the amount of aid you receive.
  5. Decide on a college.


  • If you need more aid, you can apply for students loans and parents can apply for Federal PLUS Loans.
  • Complete a Master Promissory Note.
  • Finalize your college plans.
  • Enjoy your first semester!

Categories: Financial Aid | Grants | Scholarships | Student Loans | Financial Aid Applications | CSS Profile | FAFSA
Tags: college timeline css profile fafsa student aid report

Connect with Go Financial Aid in your favorite flavor!