Along the road to college, it’s not uncommon to hit a few bumps. Sometimes people forget to file the FAFSA on time putting them at reduced eligibility for many need based grant programs. However, the Pell grant program remains open and available all through the academic year, as long as the FAFSA form is filed.

If you have not yet filed your FAFSA there is still hope to retain some funding. Go to and file now! The FAFSA uses your personal and family tax and asset information to calculate an expected family contribution. The expected family contribution is then used to calculate eligibility for the Pell grant, Federal Stafford loans, and other need based college funding resources. When the expected family contribution is assigned after filing the FAFSA you can confirm eligibility here on the 2015-2016 official Pell chart from the Department of Education. While it’s important to file the FAFSA early to maximize funding eligibility, there is still potential for financial aid for late filers.

Some late game strategy:

Getting down to the last minute is all about creating the best situation out of as little time and planning available.

If you have waited until the summer to file the FAFSA, you are probably behind on school admissions as well. Maybe it just took a few months to get motivated, but bottom line is there is still enough time to move forward with your college planning. Here are a few things to consider.

Spend less, learn more:

Apply for a community college that offers low costs per credit, and the classes you need. Make sure you take classes that could easily transfer to another school if needed. Community college is a gateway opportunity, and a better value for last minute students. Committing to a very expensive school late in the selection process could be a costly error.

Reload January 1:

Have a good first semester at community college. Then, make sure you file the new FAFSA early. It’s available for Fall 2016 starting January 1, 2016. This time you can’t miss it.

Finish strong and make the transfer:

Take on the second semester courses with bravado. Apply to your transfer school knowing you have a good GPA. With relief, you should get an admission letter and financial aid package during the spring because you did everything early.

The college road is not supposed to be too easy. Just stay focused on what you need to do. If you have had a tough time planning and preparing up until now, take pressure off by going to a local school as a low cost option. Once better prepared next year you can make a more informed decision about a school to transfer to.

Please note that the information provided on this website is provided on a general basis and may not apply to your own specific individual needs, goals, financial position, experience, etc. LendKey does not guarantee that the information provided on any third-party website that LendKey offers a hyperlink to is up-to-date and accurate at the time you access it, and LendKey does not guarantee that information provided on such external websites (and this website) is best-suited for your particular circumstances. Therefore, you may want to consult with an expert (financial adviser, school financial aid office, etc.) before making financial decisions that may be discussed on this website.