fafsa deadlineIt started Jan. 1 as one of the first challenges facing college-bound students: Filling out the form for FAFSA -- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid -- which can make that first college class seem like a breeze.

Less than two months after the start of the student financial aid program's filing period, FAFSA deadlines loom. There are various federal and state deadlines, and colleges may have earlier deadlines, so students are advised to check with the colleges that they're applying to for the 2011-12 school year.June 30, 2012, is the federal deadline, but other deadlines may force parents to scramble to fill out their tax returns now. If a tax return isn't completed by the FAFSA deadline, income tax information can be estimated.

A student's FAFSA status can be checked three to five days after submitting the form online. (Also see WalletPop's "Common FAFSA Mistakes to Avoid.")

Since some state money is limited and is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it's best to file early. The priority deadline for California State University campuses, for example, is March 2. Some universities have earlier deadlines that have already passed.

Correction: This post was corrected on Feb. 20. March 10 is not the federal deadline for filing FAFSA, as we wrote in an earlier version, but is the financial aid deadline for the state of Indiana. The federal FAFSA season started Jan. 1 and ends June 30. We regret the error.

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