Why you should file for financial aid now

If your child will be applying for financial aid this year, have you filed your applications yet?

You could miss out on financial help if you don't file promptly.

The federal government doesn't impose deadlines on parents and students for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the federal application that all schools require families to complete, but other players do.

Many colleges and universities impose tight deadlines for financial aid applications. It's up to you to know what the aid deadlines are for each school that is on your child's list.

The deadlines are also important for parents whose children are returning college students.

At many private selective colleges and universities, families must also be mindful of the filing deadline for the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. In addition to the FAFSA, about 250 mostly private schools use the PROFILE to determine who will qualify for their own in-house grants.

State financial aid deadlines

The states also maintain their own deadlines for state financial aid and some of these deadlines are coming up fast.

This year six states are urging residents to file as soon as possible after Jan. 1 since the awards will only be made until the funds run out. Those six states are Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont and Washington, according to Mary Fallon with Student Financial Aid Services, which offers a fee-based FAFSA preparation service.

Other early states include Tennessee and Oregon, which maintain a February 1 deadline for some grants, and a Feb. 15 deadline for Connecticut. Numerous states have early March deadlines including California, Maryland and Michigan.

You can find all the state aid deadlines by obtaining the 2014-2015 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet.