Scores of financial aid for college students is doled out on a first come, first served basis and most of it calls for students to have filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA form. Those forms are available at

The process is free. The deadline in California is March 2.

The form is crucial for all college students who are interested in any form of financial aid, including grants, loans and work-study. The information on each student/family’s “expected family contribution” (based on pay stubs, W-2 and last year’s tax return) is calculated by the U.S. Department of Education and is electronically transmitted to schools on the student’s supplied list where it’s used to determine a student’s eligibility for all types of aid.

Many campuses require the FAFSA be filled out as a matter of course.

The earliest students can fill out the form is Jan. 1, but many scholarships, aid packages, work-study programs and the like are given on a first come, first served basis and require a completed FAFSA. College and high school counselors urge students to fill out the FAFSA immediately.