feature image of Rabbit Food article
feature image of Rabbit Food article

Financial Aid | Budgeting

Mastering FAFSA: Deadlines and Tips to Know

The 2022-23 FAFSA application opens October 1, and early application is a great way to maximize your financial aid awards to help fund your educational goals. So what are the important things to remember about applying for financial help? 

Key first steps

First, it’s important to apply for financial aid even if you think you may not qualify. The only way to know for sure if you qualify for aid is to apply. The FAFSA is easy to complete and it is free. You have nothing to lose.

Second, scholarships and financial aid are two separate types of aid. If you want to be considered for both, you need to complete both a scholarship application and a financial aid application. Scholarship apps are available from the university you plan on attending, and financial aid applications are available from the federal government at fafsa.gov

Important dates

When you’re investigating a timeline for federal financial aid, you’ll notice different dates. Why is that? Because each university has its own priority dates. You'll want to not only complete the FAFSA by SDState's March 1 priority date, but also keep in mind that SDState’s academic scholarship priority date is December 1. That's the date you'll want to meet to be sure you are awarded the maximum scholarship amount that you are eligible to receive. 

Tip #1: Abide by the priority dates

Priority dates are important because they can affect how much money you may be awarded for your university expenses. Federal work-study and some types of grants are limited, so make sure you meet the priority dates to be considered for all the assistance that you need.

Tip #2: Strive for accuracy

The FAFSA gives the schools you’re applying to an idea of your overall financial situation so they know your budgetary needs. That’s why reflecting your finances accurately is important for decision-making. Luckily you have the option of speaking with a financial aid counselor to provide guidance and ensure you’re awarded an amount reflective of your current situation.

Bonus tip: Keep in mind that the 2022-23 FAFSA utilizes 2020 tax information, so the best way to provide accurate data is to use the data retrieval tool while completing your FAFSA.

Tip #3: Sidestep the pitfalls

Avoid common mistakes when filling out your FAFSA by preparing ahead of time. Double-check all your information for accuracy, especially items like your address, social security number and financial information. Make sure to spell your name correctly and to not include any non-legal nicknames. These can delay your financial aid process and may lead to requests for verification. 

Tip #4: Talk to the team

SDState has an Office of Financial Aid for a reason. They’re experts on financial assistance and are here to answer whatever questions you have regarding financial aid. Give them a call at 605-688-4695 during regular business hours, or email anytime at sdsu.finaid@sdstate.edu.

More from Rabbit Food

The Future College Student's Guide to Getting Prepped for the Fall (Free E-Book)