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Many colleges allocate their financial aid on a first-come, first-serve basis, so make sure you complete your FAFSA as soon as possible!

It’s no secret that college can get pretty expensive.

And while you may have no clue where you’ll wind up, you know you probably won’t be able to get there without financial aid.

But don’t despair; we’re breaking down the process for you, beginning with what you need to know about the 2020–21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Beginning October 1, 2019, families can access, fill out, and submit their 2020–21 FAFSA. While the FAFSA itself doesn’t actually award any financial aid, colleges use the data collected from FAFSAs to determine if students are eligible for any type of student aid, which can include grants, student loans, and work-study. In some cases, students can attend college for free.

GIF of woman saying 'It's For Free'

Filling out and completing the FAFSA is a crucial step towards college attendance, as students who complete the FAFSA are much more likely to enroll in college. Additionally, in order to be eligible for any type of college aid, students must complete and submit their FAFSAs accordingly.

It’s also important to file your FAFSA early; while most college application deadlines are months away, it’s still critical to note that many colleges, including CUNY, allocate funds on a rolling, first-come, first-serve basis. So submit your FAFSA now to increase your chances of enrolling in college.

Here’s a factoid for you; did you know that many students do not complete a FAFSA because they incorrectly believe they are not eligible for financial aid? This has resulted in nearly $50 million in unclaimed Pell grant awards that could have gone to otherwise qualified City high school seniors each year.

FIFTY. MILLION. If only they had filled out their FAFSAs!

So, if you are you are a high school senior (or the parent of a graduating senior), we strongly encourage you to fill out a FAFSA as soon as you can.

To learn more about the FAFSA completion process and other types of financial aid available to students, check out the Federal Student Aid FAFSA site.

We wish all of our rising high school seniors a smooth FAFSA completion process!

Student named Vladimir holds up a paper cutout of a graduation cap with the words, "Vladimir - Medgar Evers" written on it.

Filling out and completing the FAFSA is a crucial step towards college attendance, as students who complete the FAFSA are much more likely to enroll in college.

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NYC Department of Education, 2019