Apply for the FAFSA as soon as possible! As soon as possible means on or right after October 1 the year before you intend to enroll in college. For example, if you're attending college next fall, you would file the FAFSA on or after October 1 this fall using tax information from last year. A little confusing, I know! You can always find more specific dates and deadlines on the Federal Student Aid website. Also be advised that you will need to file a new FAFSA every year you're enrolled in college, again, ASAP after October 1. And remember, there are sometimes limited grants or loans that run out, so it is true that the early bird gets the worm.
Director of Financial Aid
University of California, Riverside
Most states have a deadline to apply for state grant aid, and most colleges also have a “priority date” to complete the FAFSA. For example, the UC system has its own priority dates. Needy students who miss this deadline are likely to lose out on significant amounts of need-based grant funding. File early to get the most financial aid possible.
Make the financial aid process easier by checking out The Best Advice and Resources for Filling Out the FAFSA.