How To Secure Last-Minute Financial Aid This Summer (2024)

With families around the country finalizing their college enrollment, many are still on the hunt for last-minute financial aid.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid debacle that started the college admissions seasons has delayed colleges from delivering financial aid packages. This meant many families didn’t even know what they would pay for college until May or June.

Combine this with the U.S. Department of Education reporting that families had submitted 9.4% fewer FAFSA applications as of June 7 for the 2024-25 academic year compared to the previous year. This means the delays have made a significant impact that will lead to fewer students getting the aid they need to attend school.

If you’re still searching for last-minute financial aid, here’s where to look.

Fill Out The FAFSA

While the 2024-25 academic year is almost underway, it's not too late to fill out the FAFSA for the school year. In fact, the FAFSA deadline for this upcoming academic year is not until June 30, 2025.

Of course, many states and colleges have their own FAFSA and school enrollment deadlines that are way before that, but you may not be too late for some schools on your list or the school you're attending. The National Association for College Admission Counseling even published an ongoing list of schools that have extended enrollment dates this year, as well as dates for financial aid priority.


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Regardless of what your college may offer, filling out the FAFSA is the only way to qualify for Pell Grants and a range of other scholarship and grant opportunities. The FAFSA also unlocks the ability for students to borrow for school with federal student loans, which are often a crucial component of a family's college payment plans.

Apply For Last-Minute Scholarships

Kevin Ladd of says there are still quite a few scholarships available with deadlines this summer and funding that can be used for the 2024-25 academic year.

"Students can still create an account and conduct a free scholarship search to get matched to them and apply," he says, adding that you can easily browse available scholarships by the deadline month in June, July, and August,

Johnnie Johnson, who serves as VP of enrollment management at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, says many colleges and universities still have funding (including scholarships) available as well. But families and students have to be proactive and ask institutions about scholarships within academic programs or other outlets.

Johnson also recommends using to search for scholarships based on their identity, area of study, and other factors. He points out that Fastweb lets students fill out a profile of themselves and have the platform indicate what kinds of scholarships might be available to them.

Other places to find scholarships may be much closer to home.

"Families should also check with their local and personal churches, parishes and mosques, as well as any parents' HR offices that might have employee benefits they may access," says Johnson.

Negotiate Your Financial Aid Package

Dr. Shaan Patel of test preparation company Prep Expert also points out that financial aid packages you receive from a school aren't necessarily set in stone, nor are they always the final offer. Students should carefully review the financial aid packages offered by each college and consider situations where they might have some negotiation room.

"If there have been changes in your family's financial situation since you submitted your FAFSA or CSS Profile, such as a job loss, medical expenses, or other significant changes, document these circ*mstances," says Patel. From there, you can write a formal appeal letter to the financial aid office explaining your situation and why you need additional aid. You will also want to include any documentation that supports your case.

After submitting your appeal, Patel says to follow up with the financial aid office to ensure it received your request and to inquire about the timeline for a response.

"Persistence can demonstrate your commitment and need," he says.

Look To Employers For Help

Financial advisor and college aid expert Jack Wang of Innovative Advisory Group also says to make sure you check for employer-based financial aid opportunities. The fact is, many big companies will help pay for college through a range of different programs, and some even offer free higher education opportunities through specific online schools.

For example, Starbucks employees can earn a first-time bachelor’s degree online from Arizona State University for free as long as they work enough hours to qualify. Other employers that help pay for college tuition or offer tuition reimbursem*nt include Amazon, Boeing, Disney, and Home Depot, to name a few.

If your employer doesn't offer help with college, the company may be enticed to do so if made aware of the tax benefits. Thanks to the CARES Act, companies can pay up to $5,250 per year for employees toward student loan repayment or tuition reimbursem*nt on a tax-advantaged basis — until Dec. 31, 2025, according to the IRS.

Other Considerations

Wang points out that filling out the FAFSA is crucial when it comes to paying for college, even if you only need to borrow money in the short term while you figure out a long-term plan.

"A potential strategy is to borrow to make up any shortfall to give time to obtain other aid or scholarships," he says, adding that student loans can always be paid off early without penalty. In summary, student loans can buy enough time for other payment strategies to work.

If your family is truly short on funds for school, taking a long and hard look at your college plans and seeing if they make sense could help.

For example, Patel says it is often preferential to attend a junior or community college for a few years before transferring to a four-year school if funding is tight. Many community colleges have transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities that ensure credits earned at the community college will transfer seamlessly.

"By completing the first two years at a community college, students can save a significant amount on tuition and fees," he says.

It could also make sense just to attend a different college altogether — one that fits better into the family budget or makes it possible to borrow less money for school. Whatever is decided, time left to line up financial aid is running out fast.

How To Secure Last-Minute Financial Aid This Summer (2024)
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