What are you doing this weekend? If you're a college-bound young adult hoping to get financial aid to help with your tuition, your answer should be "filling out the FAFSA." Nearly all schools require that students fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for each year that they hope to receive financial assistance. And most experts suggest that even students who aren't sure whether they qualify should submit a form just in case; after all, students who don't definitely won't get financial aid.
The form is available on January 1st every year, and while different states and colleges have different deadlines, students who fill it in early tend to be awarded more aid money. Data suggest that students who file the from between January and March, for example, receive twice as much aid money as those who wait longer! One reason is that some state grant programs operate on a first-come, first-served basis.