ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — If you want financial aid for college, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA form as soon as possible.

That’s the advice from CPA Scott Adair, who discussed the FAFSA form and its benefits Monday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“It starts the process for getting any federal aid, state aid, grants, scholarships, and/or loans processed,” Adair said. “It’s really important because as you go through this process and you’re visiting colleges and reviewing places for your child to go to higher education it starts the process into looking at how much this is going to cost you out of pocket. It identifies what loans and grants are available to you as adults and your student to make sure that their college education is affordable.”

It’s important right now because students begin to consider what colleges or universities they want to apply to, the window for filling out the FAFSA form just opened up on October 1. “The sooner you get that information in, the sooner a decision can be made and the sooner you can see how much that education is going to cost you out of pocket,” Adair noted.

You can fill out the free application online at “That will walk you through the process of filling out that FAFSA form,” explained Adair. “You’ll need Social Security numbers for the adults in the home as well as the student in the home. You’ll need to have access to your 2020 federal tax return. In addition to that – or in replacement of that – you can certainly link your FAFSA application to an IRS data retrieval website that will allow that information to be forwarded to the particular colleges and/or universities that you submit your FAFSA to.”

The financial aid is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Adair said, “It’s really, really important that you get this form filled out as soon as possible. The tax return information is already available since it’s the 2020 year that they’re looking at for the ’22-’23 school year. In addition to that, they process applications as they are received so the longer you wait, the later in the process you’re going to be and the longer it might be before you have an answer. This also does hinge the trigger for state aid to be able to apply to the student, as well as any scholarships that the college and/or university may offer to that student.”