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Ah, deadlines. The sworn enemy of students across the nation. When you’re busy with classes, extracurricular activities, and a social life in whatever time you’ve got left, it’s easy to lose track and let due dates start whooshing by. All of a sudden, your 10-page term paper is due in an hour, and you’re only on page 5 (with the help of 26-point type and triple line spacing). We get it.

Nevertheless, we’re here to point out a few critical deadlines that you really shouldn’t miss: those to do with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. By submitting your FAFSA form late, you might be forfeiting big money that can help you pay for college.

 

Here are those three deadlines:


1. The College Deadline

The first type of deadline comes from colleges themselves, and—spoiler alert—it’s typically pretty early. These deadlines vary from school to school, but they usually come well before the academic year starts. If you’re applying to multiple colleges, be sure to look up each school’s FAFSA deadline and apply by the earliest one.

Many of these FAFSA due dates are priority deadlines. This means that you need to get your FAFSA form in by that date to be considered for the most money. Many colleges have this date clearly marked on their financial aid pages. If you can’t find it, you can always call the school’s financial aid office.

If you’re worried about gathering information to complete the FAFSA form in time to meet this deadline, don’t be. You can apply as early as Oct. 1 (instead of Jan. 1 as you may have done in the past). This earlier submission date will give you more time to complete the FAFSA form before college deadlines approach, which means more time to compare schools. You’ll use earlier (2017) tax information, so there’s no need for estimates.

Didn’t think it could get any easier? The earlier launch date coincides with many college application deadlines, so go ahead and apply for schools and for federal aid at the same time. If you haven’t figured out where you’re applying yet, don’t worry! You can still submit the FAFSA form. Just add any school you’re considering, even if you’re not sure whether you’ll apply or be accepted. You can always add or remove schools later.


2. The State Deadline

The second deadline is determined by your home state. You can check your state’s deadline here. Some states have hard deadlines and other states have suggested deadlines to make sure you get priority consideration for college money. Many states have limited funds, so their FAFSA deadlines may be quite early. If your state’s deadline is “As soon as possible after Oct. 1, 2018,” you should get your FAFSA form submitted ASAP. Many of these states with limited funds award financial aid funds only until they run out, so the sooner you apply, the better your chances.


3. The Federal Deadline

This last deadline comes from us, the U.S. Department of Education, aka the FAFSA folks. Our only time constraint is that each year’s FAFSA form becomes unavailable on June 30 at the end of the academic year it applies to.

That means that the 2019–20 FAFSA form (which was made available on Oct. 1, 2018) will disappear from fafsa.gov on June 30, 2020, because that’s the end of the 2019–20 school year. That’s right; you can technically go through your entire year at college before accessing the FAFSA form. However, a few federal student aid programs have limited funds, so be sure to apply as soon as you can. Also, as we said, earlier deadlines from states and colleges make waiting a bad idea.


Why so many deadlines?

All these entities award their financial aid money differently and at different times. What they all have in common, though, is that they use the FAFSA form to assess eligibility for their aid programs. So when a college wants to get its aid squared away before the academic year starts, it needs your FAFSA form to make that happen. If you want in on that college money, you need to help the college out by getting your information in by its deadline. The same goes for state aid programs. Additionally, many outside scholarship programs need to see your FAFSA info before they will consider your application. If you’re applying for scholarships, you need to stay on top of those deadlines, too.

What happens if I miss the deadlines?

Don’t miss the deadlines. Plan to get your FAFSA form in by the earliest of all the deadlines for your best crack at college money. By missing deadlines, you take yourself out of the running for money you might otherwise get. Some states and colleges continue awarding aid to FAFSA latecomers, but your chances get much slimmer, and the payout is often less if you do get aid. It’s just better not to miss the deadlines.

If you miss the end-of-June federal deadline, you’re no longer eligible to submit that year’s FAFSA form. Did we mention not to miss the deadlines?

Across the board, the motto really is “the sooner the better.” So turn in your FAFSA form and that term paper as soon as possible (without the 26-point type). Apply by the earliest deadline. Get your FAFSA form done today!


Emma Jones is an intern with the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid. She’s also a junior at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she’s studying political science and involved in too many clubs.

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The post 3 Types of FAFSA® Deadlines You Should Pay Attention To appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

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Reposted from Ed Homeroom, The Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Education

There’s so much information available about financial aid for college or career school that it can be hard to tell the facts from fiction. We’ve got you covered! Here are some common myths—and the real scoop—about financial aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form.

 

MYTH 1: My parents make too much money, so I won’t qualify for any aid.

FACT: The reality is there’s no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. It doesn’t matter if you have a low or high income; most people qualify for some type of financial aid, including low-interest federal student loans. Many factors besides income—such as your family size and your year in school—are taken into account.

TIP: When you fill out the FAFSA form, you’re also automatically applying for funds from your state, and possibly from your school as well. In fact, some schools won’t even consider you for any of their scholarships (including academic scholarships) until you’ve submitted a FAFSA form. Don’t make assumptions about what you’ll get—fill out the application and find out!


MYTH 2: The 2018–19 FAFSA® form launches on Jan. 1.

FACT: The 2018–19 FAFSA form launched on Oct. 1. You should submit a FAFSA form as early as possible because some states and schools have limited funds.


MYTH 3: I should use my 2017 tax information to fill out the 2018–19 FAFSA® form.

FACT: You must use your 2016 tax information to complete the 2018–19 FAFSA form. (The requirements changed last year.) It doesn’t matter if you or your parents haven’t filed 2017 taxes yet, because the 2018–19 FAFSA form doesn’t need that information. You won’t have to update your FAFSA form after filing 2017 taxes either, because 2016 information is what’s required. If your financial situation has changed since 2016, complete the 2018–19 FAFSA form using the tax information it requires (2016), and then contact your school’s financial aid office to discuss the change in your situation. They can make updates to your FAFSA information if warranted.


MYTH 4: I support myself, so I don’t have to include my parent’s info on the FAFSA® form.

FACT: This is not necessarily true. Even if you support yourself, live on your own, or file your own taxes, you may still be considered a dependent student for FAFSA purposes. The FAFSA form asks a series of questions to determine your dependency status. If you’re independent, you won’t need to include your parents’ information on your FAFSA form. But if you’re dependent, you must provide your parents’ information.

If you’re a dependent student, find out who is considered your parent for FAFSA purposes. (It’s not as obvious as you might think.)


MYTH 5: I should wait until I’m accepted to a college before I fill out the FAFSA® form.

FACT: Don’t wait. You can start now! As a matter of fact, you can start as early as your senior year of high school. You must list at least one college to receive your information. You SHOULD list all schools you’re considering even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt your application to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if you later decide not to apply or attend. If you don’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard your FAFSA form.

You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do. If you want to add another school after you submit your FAFSA form, you can log in at fafsa.gov and submit a correction.

The schools you list will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of aid you may receive.


MYTH 6: If I didn’t receive enough money for school. I’m just out of luck.

FACT: You still have options! If you’ve received federal, state, and college aid but still find yourself having to fill the gap between what your financial aid covers and what you owe your school, check out these 7 options.


MYTH 7: I should call “the FAFSA® people” (Federal Student Aid) to find out how much financial aid money I’m getting and when.

FACT: No, you’ll have to contact your school. Federal Student Aid does not award or disburse your aid, so we won’t be able to tell you what you’ll get or when you’ll get it. You will have to contact the financial aid office at your school to find out the status of your aid and when you should expect it. Just keep in mind that each school has a different timeline for awarding financial aid.


MYTH 8: There’s only one FAFSA® deadline and that’s not until June.

FACT: Nope! There are at least three deadlines you need to check: your state, school, and federal deadlines. You can find the state and federal deadlines at fafsa.gov. You’ll need to check your school’s website for their FAFSA deadline. If you’re applying to multiple schools, make sure to check all of their deadlines and apply by the earliest one. Also, if you’re applying to any scholarships that require the FAFSA form, they might have a different deadline as well! Even if your deadlines aren’t for a while, we recommend you fill out the FAFSA form as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss out on any aid.


MYTH 9: I only have fill out the FAFSA® form once.

FACT: You have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.


MYTH 10: I can share an FSA ID with my parent(s).

FACT: Nope, if you’re a dependent student, then two people will need their own FSA ID to sign your FAFSA form online:

  1. You (the student)
  2. One of your parents

An FSA ID is a username and password that you use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites such as fafsa.gov.

If you’re a dependent student, your parent will need his or her own FSA ID to sign your FAFSA form electronically. If your parent has more than one child attending college, he or she can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications. You’ll need a unique email address for each FSA ID.

Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone—not even to someone helping you fill out the FAFSA form. Sharing your FSA ID could put you at risk of identity theft and could cause delays in the FAFSA process!


MYTH 11: Only students with good grades get financial aid.

FACT: While a high grade point average will help you get into a good school and may help with academic scholarships, most federal student aid programs do not take grades into consideration when you first apply. Keep in mind that if you want to continue receiving aid throughout your college career, you will have to maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by your school.


MYTH 12: It costs money to submit the FAFSA® form.

FACT: Absolutely not! You NEVER have to pay to complete the FAFSA form when you go to fafsa.gov. If you’re paying a fee, you’re not on the official government website.


So what’s next?

Go to fafsa.gov and fill out the application. If you applied for admission to a college or career school and have been accepted, and you listed that school on your FAFSA form, the school will calculate your aid and will send you an electronic or paper financial aid offer telling you how much aid you’re eligible for at the school.

 

Mia Johnson is a Management & Program Analyst at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.