The Financial Aid Time Line
Many colleges use data from the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. In October begin applying on line for non-federal financial aid at: profileonline.collegeboard.com
In January start filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Be aware that many states require additional forms. Visit www.fafsa.ed.gov for more info. You may also want to register for a PIN at pin.ed.gov
In February start your search for scholarships. Check to see what is your state's financial aid deadline. Some are as early as March 1st.
In April discuss the financial aid package from each school with your family. Calculate how much is still needed. Decide if you need a private loan or more scholarships to make ends meet. Remember to include the cost of books which can add $700 to $1200 a semester.
Borrowing from Your 401(k) Think Twice: It Could Cost You: an article from the College Board: Pros & Cons of Using your 401(k)