FAFSA Series: Does College Order Matter?

When students complete a FAFSA, they are required to name and submit their form to at least one college.

This may seem obvious, but so many students struggle with knowing where they will apply, especially right at the time when the FAFSA becomes available (October 1st, in case you were still wondering).

In a desperate attempt to have it completed, I have been asked many times if students can simply fill out a FAFSA and submit it to the “FAFSA processor”, without selecting any colleges yet. Of course the answer is no. But it’s good to have an idea of how the FAFSA is processed, and in what order it should be submitted to colleges.

First, I suggest submitting the FAFSA as few times as possible. Even though the FAFSA form does a decent job of preventing it, changes and errors are always possible if you log in to the FAFSA more than once. You need to be careful, or avoid logging back into the FAFSA unless you know exactly what you are doing.

The best way to accomplish this is to submit the FAFSA to all of your colleges at once. If you have more than 10 colleges to submit, you’ll have to wait about 3 business days before you can update the FAFSA and submit to additional schools.

You may be questioning then how to best arrange those colleges on your FAFSA list. I have mentioned this in a previous post, but it’s worth saying again that deadlines will be super important. In general, make sure to submit the FAFSA first to those schools with the earliest deadlines.

Most colleges do not look at the order, or “rank”, in which you submit their school on the FAFSA. Though, it may matter for some state grants that you have a college from that state listed first.

If you’re not worried about the deadlines (or submit your FAFSA early enough), you can order the colleges based on your preference. The likelihood that you will attend a certain college may mean that you’ll be looking for their award notice sooner, and will want to complete their financial aid process as quickly as possible.

Ultimately, be sure to double-check that you have successfully submitted the FAFSA to all of the colleges you are interested in and end up applying to, so the colleges can then share their interest in you!

Until Next Time,

Hope Santos, PES Financial Aid Consultant

P.S. The financial aid process can be confusing and mistakes can be costly. If you’re looking for help with the FAFSA or just don’t want to do it, we are happy to help! Having us help with the FAFSA is kinda like hiring a CPA to do your taxes, sure you can do it on your own, but do you really want to? If you’d like us to help simply click here to get started!

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