Financial aid is complex. Here are the high-level pieces to the puzzle.
Ideally 8-10 months before you the first day of classes you wish to receive aid for.
As early as late-January, but depends on when you complete the FAFSA application.
Ideally between 1-7 months before the start of classes.
Everyone who completes the FAFSA (and any additional information requests) will be offered the federal financial aid they are eligible for. At CU Boulder, our awarding policy for university funding gives priority to the neediest students, as determined by the FAFSA.