What Happens When You Miss the Financial Aid Deadline?

Image credit: ABC

We admit it. We’re fans of the TV show “The Middle.” And we’ve learned some great parenting lessons from the Hecks. One episode even answered an important college question: what happens when you miss the financial aid deadline?

Despite all the reminders, Sue forgot to refile for financial aid, jeopardizing her aid and scholarships. She ignored the posters around campus, deleted the reminder emails, and was not informed about the need to refile for aid every year while in college. The consequences? She found out on the first day of school that her tuition bill was due and her registration for all her classes had been rescinded.

As you can imagine, panic mode set in. When she informed her parents of her predicament they were less than supportive. They had expected her to be responsible and pay attention to the signs and emails. This was even more devastating because the Hecks could not afford to pay for college.

Thinking he could appeal to the college and ask for mercy, he and Sue went to the financial aid office on campus. He tried everything from explaining, to flattery, to compassion; but nothing worked. The college was not sympathetic and to pay Sue’s tuition for the year, he sold his small business.

What can we learn from this?

A deadline is a deadline

Make note of every single deadline surrounding financial aid. Better yet, always file early once the FAFSA and the college application is available. Waiting until the last minute or missing the deadline results in far-reaching consequences.

When the money is gone, it’s gone

As the financial aid office explained to the Hecks, when you miss the deadline, there is nothing they can do. When the money is dispersed to students who filed for aid, it’s gone. There are no second chances.

Pay attention to the fine print when you receive your financial aid award

Sue Heck did not pay attention to the fine print when she received her award letter. She assumed she was automatically eligible for aid all four years of college. Because of this, she ignored all the reminders to refile and did not understand that you must refile the FAFSA and apply for aid every year you are in college. Many scholarships must be renewed each year as well.

Deadlines are critically important during college prep. Test deadlines, application deadlines, FAFSA deadlines and more can have far-reaching ramifications. Be smart and keep a calendar of all college deadlines—and if need be, remind, remind, and remind your student.

Updated July 2019

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