Photograph of a male student sitting at a table with a laptop. He is outside the student center. The sun is low in the sky. The student is smiling.

FAFSA for 2020-2021 school year now open

September 29, 2019

To be considered for financial aid, encompassing scholarships and grants, work study, and student and parent loans, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa.

FAFSA becomes available October 1 each year. The University of Colorado Denver’s Financial Aid & Scholarships Office encourages students to apply as early as possible for financial aid for the upcoming school year (2020-2021).

“Applying for financial aid is a new process for many families. We’re here to help and are committed to supporting our students, said Julie Thompson, communication and business coordinator at the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office. “Please contact us for assistance completing the FAFSA, applying for scholarships and answering questions about the process.”

Apply as early as possible

To be considered for the best aid available, submit all documents before the school’s priority deadline. CU Denver’s priority deadline is April 1, 2020.

“Each year be sure to apply as early as possible because aid is awarded on a first-come first-served basis. Some funds may be depleted part way through the year,” said Thompson, who encourages students to complete the FAFSA ahead of the priority deadline. “By submitting the FAFSA early, applicants will have more time to understand their options, ask questions and accept the aid that best matches individual needs.”

Picture of the entrance to the Financial Aid & Scholarship Office. Sign with text and a CU Denver logo
Visit the Financial Aid & Scholarships Office for assistance with FAFSA and financial aid.

FAFSA tips

  • FAFSA checklist: View and print the helpful FAFSA Checklist from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) to learn which documents applicants should have on hand when filling out the FAFSA.
  • Avoid common errors: To avoid errors, carefully read all of the questions on the FAFSA. Mistakes can delay applications and limit the amount of aid an applicant is eligible to receive. For instance, don’t enter commas or decimal points in numeric fields. Men age 18-26 must register for Selective Service. Applicants need to accurately report their parents’ marital status as well as their own. Review this list of the most common FAFSA errors, also from NASFAA.
  • First time with FAFSA: First-time applicants may apply for a Federal Student Aid ID and password before completing the FAFSA. The ID and password act as a user’s signature on the application. Students and parents of dependent students may each apply by visiting fsaid.ed.gov.
  • Returning FAFSA users: Remember that the FAFSA must be complete annually. Consider setting a calendar reminder on October 1 each year.
  • Go mobile: With the creation of the new My Student Aid mobile app, applying for financial aid has never been easier. Applicants can use the app to complete the FAFSA on a mobile device.

After completing FAFSA

  • After submitting the FAFSA, follow up with the university to determine if additional documents are required.
  • Review the school’s cost, and focus on net price, not sticker price. Net price is a college’s price for tuition and fees minus grants and scholarships.
  • Apply for scholarships through the university, high school, foundations, federal agencies, community organizations, and employers.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides tax benefits for education. To learn about credits, deductions, and other benefits, visit IRS.gov.

Before you borrow

“If you have any uncertainty about student loans, visit us at the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships before you or your parents finalize your loans,” said Thompson. “A consultation can help you understand the loan terms, for example, and help with budgeting to avoid borrowing more than needed.”

Learn about loans

  • If a student elects to borrow loans to pay for educational expenses, first consider Federal Direct Loans. Families can be tempted to borrow private education loans with lower interest rates, however loan fees, postponement of payments, repayment plans, and loan forgiveness are additional factors that should be taken into consideration when selecting a loan. To learn more, visit studentaid.gov.
  • If offered multiple types of Federal Direct Loans, choose the most beneficial loan first. The government will pay the interest on Subsidized Loans during certain periods while a borrower is responsible for paying all of the interest that accrues on Unsubsidized Loans.
  • Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans have annual and lifetime limits. Be aware of the loan amount to avoid reaching the individual lifetime borrowing limit prior to completing a degree. To learn more, visit studentaid.gov.
  • First-time borrowers of federal loans will need to complete Entrance Loan Counseling and sign a Master Promissory Note by visiting studentloans.gov. The online counseling session provides key information about interest rates and repayment. The Master Promissory Note is a commitment to repay the loan. Complete these early to ensure the loan is disbursed on time.
  • If a parent elects to borrow a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, work with the university to ensure that the parent completes the application for the credit-based loan. To learn more, visit studentloans.gov.

Important information

CU Denver’s FAFSA School Code: 004508
CU Denver’s Priority Deadline: April 1, 2020

Get help with FAFSA

“Getting financial aid at CU Denver may seem like a daunting process, but it’s actually quite simple. And fear not, we’re here to help,” said Thompson.