Helpful Tips

Read the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) very carefully!
Many questions on the FAFSA are straightforward, but many require you to read the instructions to make sure you answer the question correctly. Words like "household," "investments," and even "parent" all have common meanings, but are specifically defined for purposes of federal student aid. So be sure to read ALL the instructions. If you have unique questions regarding family situations, please contact us at to get more clarification.

Apply early for financial aid!
Deadlines for aid from the State, Southwestern and private sources are usually much earlier than the deadlines for regular federal aid. To ensure that your financial aid award package will contain as many sources as possible, apply as soon as you can after January 1st.

The U.S. Department of Education will process your FAFSA if received on or before June 30th. However, to actually receive aid, your school must have your correct, complete information before your last day of enrollment for the school year. So it is important to apply early and allow for the needed time to complete your file and not miss out on any awards.

Complete your tax return!
If you have not completed your taxes for the year, you can file the FAFSA with estimated tax information. However, once you complete your taxes (by April 15th) you will need to correct your FAFSA immediately. If you do not submit your corrected information, inaccurate tax information on your FAFSA could delay your funds. You will also be required to return any federal aid you improperly received based upon incorrect information.

File electronically!
You can file for federal financial aid over the Internet at This is the quickest and easiest way to apply for financial aid. Since the information is edited before you submit it, an errors will be brought to your attention before you will be able to continue submitting the application. This reduces the chances of your application be rejected and makes it less likely that you will have to correct information later.

Do you need additional forms?
The FAFSA is the one application for federal student aid. However, Southwestern requires that you fill out additional forms to create a complete and accurate file. Complete all forms sent to you and return them in a timely manner. Be sure to fill out every form completely, or the processing of your financial aid might be delayed.

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