Q:

When and where should my daughter start applying for financial aid for college? -- Need Money

A:

Now is definitely the time to find out how to apply for student aid. Begin by obtaining a free copy of "Funding Your Education: The Guide to Federal Student Aid" from the U.S. Department of Education (studentaid.ed.gov/sa/resources). This will definitely give your daughter a great overall view of all she needs to know about applying for aid from the federal government, states and colleges. There are also two very helpful websites that will give your family even more information about applying for financial aid. They are finaid.org and edvisors.com.

The next big step is for her to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Not only is it the starting point for getting federal aid, it is part of the process of getting aid from states and many colleges. This form will be available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov on Jan. 1, 2016. You also can get a print form from high school counselors, public libraries or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID.

The sooner she completes this application, the more aid she is likely to get. According to Mark Kantrowitz of Edvisors.com, those who file from January through March receive, on average, twice the amount of grant money as those who file later. Another step that must be taken is to apply for state and college financial aid programs. Your daughter usually will not have to be admitted to a college to apply for financial aid from the school. For both state and college aid programs she needs to find out now the deadlines for submitting aid applications.