When should I fill out the FAFSA?

<p>I'm a rising senior and my parents are clueless about the FAFSA and so am I.
When should I be filling this bad boy out?</p>

<p>You should get hold of your parents' financial data today and run the numbers through the FAFSA calculator at FinAid</a>! Financial Aid, College Scholarships and Student Loans</p>

<p>That will give you a good approximation of what the true FAFSA will calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to be, which is what the colleges/universities will expect your family to pay. Many parents find the results to be so horrifying that they feel the need to lie down for a while in a quiet dark place with an ice pack on their heads and/or a stiff drink in their stomachs. Be warned. There may be actual weeping.</p>

<p>When they have recovered a bit, send them back here to the Financial Aid Forum with their numbers, and your stats, and they can have a little chat with some of the other moms and dads. There are some true Financial Aid Geniuses here.</p>

<p>As for the "real" FAFSA, you can't fill that out until after midnight on January 1, 2009. The website you will need is FAFSA</a> - Free Application for Federal Student Aid</p>

<p>If you are looking at private colleges, you should also fill out PROFILE on a dry run so you can see what they expect you to pay. Bear in mind that the expected family contribution (EFC) is not something that schools particularly honor. All the EFC guarantees you is government money in terms of Pell and subsidized loans. Schools that use FAFSA only do not tend to be generous with aid and rarely meet the need figure generated.</p>