Experts say don’t wait to apply for college financial aid

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – For high school seniors on holiday break, college may be the last thing on your mind. That’s why It’s important to start the process of applying for financial aid early.

Thursday was the first day to apply for it. The FAFSA is the form you fill out to apply for money from the federal government and the state. Experts say it’s best to start now.

The amount of money set aside for financial aid is limited. Experts say starting right away is the best way to maximize what you can get.

Hampshire County is know as the ‘Five College area’. There are lots of students at Smith College, Amherst, Hampshire, UMass and Mt. Holyoke. Current students told 22News they’ve been through this before, and they understand the importance of applying for your FAFSA early.

“Procrastinating on financial aid kind of limits the amount of things that you can apply to. If you are going to apply to the FAFSA of the last day your not going to be able to apply to everything that you are eligible for on time and with the price of college these days, it’s important to get that out of the way early,” said UMass student Gabriel Rodriguez.

Samantha Michaud is a recent 2014 UMass graduate. “Me and my mom sit down and we did it. It’s important because otherwise you are going to be struggling while you are in school with all your busyness going on already and they you’ll be freaking out because the school will be sending you email saying you either owe us this much or finish your financial aid please,” said Michaud.

You can apply for your FAFSA online. Money can come in the form of loans, scholarships, grants or work-study opportunities.

Gustavo Rodriguez wants to attend H.C.C. in the fall. He knows a community college will be less expensive, and wants to be debt free to fulfill his dream.

“I’m hoping that I won’t have much debt after so I can try and become a baker and start my own bakery some day so I won’t have to have college debt,” said Rodriguez.

Before you apply, make sure you have the proper paperwork. You’ll need your W-2, bank and investment documents, social security card and license.

If you plan on heading to college in the fall, the last day to apply for federal aid is June 30th, 2016. For state money, the deadline is May 1st of this year.

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