Financial Aid Timeline

Financial Aid Timeline

What to do and when to do it

The dates below are a suggested timeline for when to start the financial aid process.

If you’re late getting started, don’t panic! While it’s better to start early, you can start the financial aid process as late as June of the year you plan to start college.


  • October 1

    The date when the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available for students starting college in the next fall semester. For example, if you plan to start college in Fall 2021, you can submit a FAFSA any time after October 1, 2020. Make sure you add SMC to your “school selection” list in the FAFSA.

  • November

    If you filled out your FAFSA in October, spend this month looking for other scholarships not included in your FAFSA (see a list here.) You should also make sure you’ve gotten your college applications sent in.

  • December

    Your Student Aid Report (SAR) should have arrived by now if you started a FAFSA early. Make sure you check it for errors. Did you remember to add SMC to your FAFSA “school selection” list? If you didn’t, you can go back in to your FAFSA and add it. The Financial Aid Office will begin evaluating FAFSAs to start calculating financial aid offers.

  • February

    Submit your FAFSA by the February 14 priority deadline to qualify for the most aid opportunities. Accepted students who complete a FAFSA by February 14 will receive an estimated offer by March 1.

  • April

    Compare financial aid packages (award letters) from the different schools you’ve applied to attend. For many colleges, May 1 is a national deadline to decide which college you’re attending.

  • June

    For the 2021/22 school year, June 30, 2021 is the last day you can file the FAFSA and qualify for South Carolina state grants and scholarships, including the Full Tuition Scholarship package, if applicable.