(WXYZ) — If you have a senior in high school who's thinking about going to a college or trade school next year, now is the time to start filling out those applications.
Whatever you do, do not forget the FAFSA – which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Experts say every high school senior should fill one out.
Sydney Newsome Smith, a 2021 grad of University High School Academy in Southfield, remembers last October when the window first opened to fill out the FAFSA.
"I was like, ‘Mom, we need to get this done right now. I need your tax documents,'” she said.
According to Sydney, her school had been talking about the importance of the FAFSA throughout her high school career.
"Essentially it’s your golden ticket to college especially being, you know, not only a person of color but from a disadvantaged community," she said.
Now, she is a freshman at Michigan State University and has received more aid than she expected.
"I think now my first year is paid off with scholarships and grant aids alone," she said.
Completing the FAFSA allows you to be considered for federal student aid as well as grants, scholarships, and loans offered by states and colleges.
“If you’re late, some of that money will be gone. They do not have an infinite amount of funding," Theresa Cry, an independent college counselor with Collegewise, said.
There are deadlines.
For the 2022-23 academic year, the FAFSA deadline is June 30, 2023.
But many states, like Michigan, have an earlier deadline. Michigan's deadline is March 1, 2022.
Each college or technical school may have its own deadline, so check with ones you're interested in to find out.
"Everybody is eligible for something – so I say that -- even if it is a student loan. Now, you can always decline that, but everybody is eligible for at least a student loan," Cry added.
Cry recommends you complete your admissions applications first, then knock out the FAFSA form. Once you receive and review your student aid report, you can accept the financial aid you want and then receive the funding from your school.
Students will need to renew the FAFSA each year since it only applies to a single academic year.