The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now based on tax returns from two years ago instead of the prior year. This should be a welcome change for families that file tax return extensions. As soon as your child is done with her applications, your family should focus on applying for financial aid to all of the schools she applies to.
Many private colleges offer surprisingly generous need-based financial aid packages including grants the cover the full cost of tuition for families making up to $150,000 per year. Some colleges have a first come, first serve financial aid policies, so it is important to complete the financial aid applications on time. Check each college’s financial aid website for instructions for applying for financial aid. Each school can have a different policy and application procedure.