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The FAFSA application opened Oct. 1 and Dec. 1 is the priority date set by Iowa State, but it is not a solid deadline. Students who turn their application in before Dec. 1 have a better chance at receiving aid, however.

Fall has begun, and that means it’s time to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

FAFSA is open to all students and determines a student’s eligibility for the Federal Direct Student Loan. Though FAFSA concerns federal aid, schools can also use it to determine how much institutional aid is eligible for each student. FAFSA allows students to see their full range of financial aid.

Every year, students and parents across the nation file the FAFSA application, a process that helps students get the financial aid they need to complete their education.

“It’s a free application,” said Julia Sullivan, program manager of the student financial aid department. “We can tell the student once they file the FAFSA that ‘This is what you will qualify for the Federal Direct Student Loan,’ and it is up to the student whether they will use that loan or not.”

Registration for FAFSA opened Oct. 1 and Iowa State has a priority date of Dec. 1. This priority date is not a deadline as there may be financial aid awarded to students filing after Dec. 1 based on remaining available funds. However, students stand the best chance of getting aid if they register before then.

“There are limited types of financial aid [...],” Sullivan said. “Those tend to be awarded to students who meet the priority date and meet the qualifications based on their FAFSA results.”

Though not required by Iowa State, all students are strongly encouraged to apply. Iowa State’s OneApp scholarship application also uses FAFSA data for select scholarships. Students must complete applications for FAFSA and OneApp separately.

“Many times, families will assume they won’t qualify for anything because of their income and that’s not always the case,” Sullivan said. “We always strongly encourage students and their families to file the FAFSA every year because they are oftentimes surprised for what they may qualify for.”

No matter a student’s income, by filing the FAFSA they will automatically qualify for a Federal Direct Student Loan. The student is under no obligation to take the financial aid offered through completing FAFSA. If a student decides not to use the financial aid, FAFSA still gives the student and Iowa State an idea of the possible aid that’s out there.

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