Apply for FAFSA early, experts say

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- The time to apply for federal student aid is now. It’s earlier this year than in the past.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) changed their January 1st application start date to October 1st. Since the funds are offered on a first come first serve basis, it’s essential that those who need assistance apply as soon as possible.

For some prospective students, the earlier application date is quite helpful. If they can lock down tuition assistance earlier in the process it could change their options for what schools they’re able to afford.

WOWT 6 News met with multiple Creighton students who have applied in the past. Some tell us they wouldn’t have been able to go to the University without the funding they secured from FAFSA.

"It's absolutely critical. It's kind of the only reason why some people can even go to school," said Even Geishart. "The make or break for my family was how much money I'm getting from FAFSA."

Many who have gone through the process tell us it’s very easy. Experts tell us anyone can apply regardless of their family’s financial standing.

"It's a government form that all students should complete," said EducationQuest's Joan Jurek. "It allows that student to make an earlier decision because they can see how much funding a college is going to be able to offer them."

Student Kathleen Watz applied for the current school year's funding back in January.

"If it's first come, first serve and if you don't know when it changes then you're going to have less chance of getting it," said Watz. "I just had to answer some questions online."

The students WOWT 6 News met with were clueless to the application date changes this year. They imagine most people their age, the ones who rely on the funding, may not know about the date changes. So the funding sources could be dried up before they even apply.

"Kids who go to public high schools that don't have the same sort of support and help maybe from counselors or parents it'd be definitely difficult," said Geishart.

You can start the process at the FAFSA website.