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The key to knowing what to do first for getting into college

Road passes with directional signs pointing in all directions.

August 29, 2022

Which came first – applying for college admission or applying for financial aid? Unlike the chicken and egg question – this one is a lot easier to solve.

The key is knowing that you can do both at the same time – apply for admission at the colleges you’re interested in attending and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for financial aid.

The 2023-24 FAFSA will be available on October 1 and when you complete the form, you will be asked to list the colleges you are interested in attending. You do not have to apply to the college or be accepted for admission before listing the college on the FAFSA. You can list up to ten colleges and those colleges will receive the information you provide on the FAFSA so they can prepare a financial aid offer for you.

Although you don’t have to apply or be accepted to the college to list it on the FAFSA, the financial aid office staff probably won’t send out the financial aid offer until you have been admitted. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to do some research before listing a school on the FAFSA.

Determine what schools, colleges, or universities best align with what you what to accomplish and what you can afford. Remember, you may have to pay an application fee when you apply for admissions (although some schools may offer fee waivers).

If you’re planning to attend a South Dakota college or university, you should try to apply for admissions during the free College Application Month, which is typically in mid-October to mid-November every year.

The bottom line is you don’t have be admitted to a college before applying for financial aid nor do you have to know how much money you will have to attend a college before applying for admission.