Students can apply early for FAFSA this weekend

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Federal student aid applications open on Saturday (Shutterstock)

A big change this weekend could affect how much financial aid you can get for college.

Students can begin applying for FAFSA, the free application for federal student aid this Saturday, October 1.

That's three months earlier than in years past.

Once you submit the FAFSA form, you'll get an aid report letting you know federal aid you qualify for, like Pell grants or work study.

Enter that information into the net price calculator on any college's website to get a good idea of what it will cost you before you apply.

Consumer Reports says it's important to apply for FAFSA as soon as you're able.

"Many state, college and scholarship programs need your FAFSA to determine how much aid you're going to get and often it's on a first come, first serve basis," they say.

If you're heading to college in 2017, your aid package will be based on your family's 2015 taxes.

You must "re-apply" for FAFSA every year.

The new application date also means getting earlier notice if your aid package changes.
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