If you’ve received grants or scholarships in the past, you are probably already familiar with how important the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is for your financial aid eligibility. Congratulations! You’re on your way to receiving the help you need to fund your education.

What you might NOT have heard, however, is that a few things have changed when it comes to filling out your FAFSA this year. Starting in 2016, students can now apply for next year’s federal financial aid as early as October 1—three months earlier than before!

This is great news for students, because it means that you now have more time to complete the application, will be able to make the most of various financial aid programs, and will have a lesser chance of forgetting to submit your application on time. It also means that you can use your tax information from 2015 instead of waiting to update your FAFSA when new tax information becomes available.

With the exception of Stafford loans, financial aid awards are made until funds are depleted. Remember that the earlier you submit your application, the better, as some financial aid grant opportunities may be exhausted later in the year. Here are some dates to keep in mind in the coming months.

October 1: Early FAFSA application opens.

Submit your application at fafsa.ed.gov with OU’s school code 003184.

December 15: PRIORITY deadline.

For more information about the FAFSA, please visit startwithfafsa.org, sponsored by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, or feel free to contact us directly. We are always happy to answer any questions you might have.

…And don’t forget to apply for scholarships!

To maximize your chances of receiving the aid that you need, don’t forget to apply for all 2017-2018 scholarships at OU’s Centralized Academic Scholarship Hub (CASH) and all the CLS-specific scholarships for which you might be eligible. The CASH opened October 1, so the best time to get started on your application is today!

Students can apply at the CASH by February 1 and for CLS scholarships by February 2.

Mary Wuestewald
Mary Wuestewald specializes in digital and content marketing at OU Outreach. In 2015, she earned a master's degree in Strategic Communication from OU’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She currently contributes to Insight magazine, the CLS blog and CLS social media efforts.

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