Congratulations on graduating from high school and preparing to take a very important step in your education – going to college. Regardless of your major or the academic institution you wish to attend, there is one common task all students will have to do: Filing out the FAFSA form.
Every year, millions of students fill out this form to qualify for state and federal aid, loans, and other grants. As such, more than a few entries will need to be adjusted to account for changing situations, such as transferring schools or comparing multiple academic institutions before starting your freshman year.
One of the most common questions students have is, “Is it possible to add a new school to an already submitted FAFSA form?” The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that it is possible within certain limitations, such as the date or the number of schools you wish to include on the FAFSA form.
General Information About FAFSA Deadlines
The federal deadline to submit a FAFSA application is June 30. However, it is not recommended to wait until the last minute to submit this document for a variety of reasons. The first is that you should already have all the documents you need when the submission period opens on October 1 of the previous year – specifically, your tax returns from two years ago. For instance, you will be required to submit your 2018 tax returns for the 2020–2021 academic year.
However, there are still two filing deadlines you need to know about (school deadlines and state deadlines), and they can vary significantly on a case-by-case basis.
Many academic institutions (including traditional four-year institutions, community colleges, and trade schools) have their own dates to submit a FAFSA application for financial aid. This applies to both the initial submission and any revisions you may have, so take a quick moment to see if the university you wish to add has a different deadline than the state or federal governments.
School Deadlines (Top 5 Schools)
Here are the deadlines for five of the most esteemed universities in the United States.
- Harvard University – February 1, 2020
- Stanford University – February 15, 2020
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology – February 15, 2020
- Princeton University – February 1, 2020
Please note that these deadlines are for original submissions. If you are not ready to include all of your financial data or discover a discrepancy in your submission, then you can easily file an amended FAFSA. It is strongly recommended that you do so as early as possible, especially if the correction will make you eligible for more student financial aid.
Each state has its own requirements for obtaining state-level grants and scholarships. As such, there is a wide variety of possible dates ranging from September 1 in California (for some community college awards) to June 30 for tuition grants in South Carolina.
While it is possible to file right before the deadline, we recommend against it. Waiting until the last minute will add unnecessary stress to the process, making it more likely that you will make a mistake that will have to be corrected later. It is best to get it done and over with when the application becomes available in October.
Plus, doing so will help you get up to twice the grant money that students filing at the last second would obtain. More on that later.
What to Expect When Filing Late
Financial aid, on both the state and federal levels, is handled on a first-come-first-served basis. This makes it important that you file the FAFSA as early as possible and try to correct any issues within weeks, if not days, of the initial submission.
When you submit a revision to a school that has already received your FAFSA, they will update your information and help you get the best possible financial aid package. However, if you are submitting information to a new school, then it will be treated the same as all other new applications. You may not get as good of a deal if there are many students ahead of you in line.
General Information about Submitting Revised Applications
You should take the time to collect your financial information and get the FAFSA code to make sure it is handled quickly. However, you should expect a few snags. For instance, you may receive an acceptance letter from a school the day after you submit the original FAFSA. If that happens, it is considered good form for you to go back and add in the school’s code on the form.
We strongly recommend adding the school code for all colleges that you apply for. This will eliminate the need to go back and adjust your FAFSA every time you receive an acceptance letter.
Maximum Number of Schools
You will be able to select up to 10 schools if you fill out the online FAFSA form. However, if you use the PDF print-out version, you will be limited to just four entries (PDF filers can add more schools later, after the initial processing).
This means that you can only have 10 schools on the list at the same time. However, if you are applying for state student aid, then it is important that you take the time to see if there is a particular order in which you are required to list schools. The most common stipulation is that at least one state university must be listed at the top of the form.
There is one small detail you need to keep in mind: Only the schools currently listed on the FAFSA form will receive updates if you need to make changes later on. While this may not be a problem in most cases, there are times when you may need to submit a new version that has a deleted school on the list.
Reduced Financial Aid for Late Filers
As mentioned above, financial aid is distributed on a first-come-first-served basis. This means that applicants who submit their applications in October will typically receive better offers than those that wait until May or June.
This situation is not optimal for students who do not know if they will be accepted to a specific university before sometime after the new year. However, there is one simple thing you can do to save time, money, and headaches later on – add the school to the list without waiting to hear back from them.
You do not have to wait until you receive an aid letter to add more schools to the list. You can file an amended FAFSA as early as the day following your initial submission, assuming that you used the online application rather than the traditional mail-in form.
Learn More About Filing Your FAFSA
Head to CollegeFinance.com to check out more articles about every step of the financial aid journey, from filing applications to repaying loans. Our team of experienced financial experts works tirelessly to provide you with up-to-the-minute details about the ever-changing world of post-secondary financial health.
Our articles cover a wide range of topics, from student loans and grants to discovering how to set up a budget. Every member of our team has been in your shoes before, so you know you will be getting factual advice from people who have already been there.