As you approach your senior year in high school, your mind should be filled with thoughts of the future. So, don’t wait until August to start preparing for your college career! Just because it’s senior year doesn’t mean you can start slacking on your school responsibilities. This is particularly important for students who have received a scholarship, considering the fact that your second semester scores still effect your eligibility for scholarships. Be sure to keep involved with your school’s extracurricular activities as well so your college knows you remain a hardworking, well-rounded student.
Start your senior year off with a visit to your guidance counselor or academic advisor. Make sure you’re on track to graduate so you can attend college next fall. Make sure you’ve taken or scheduled tests for all standardized tests like the SAT or the ACT. Though you should try to take these tests your junior year, you have a chance to take it or retake it for a higher score your senior year. Make sure your scores are up-to-date with the scores your colleges accept. Gather all your transcripts, recommendation letters and other application paperwork together. Be sure you have everything ready to go and turned in before your colleges’ respective deadlines.
As soon as your college applications have been sent out, start applying for financial aid. Ask your parents to fill out their tax forms early so you can provide all the information you need for your FAFSA. If your parents haven’t completed these forms, you can also use an informed guess for the amount. The forms become available on January 1, so you can submit your FAFSA as soon as possible afterward. The online application is going to be the fastest option and the easiest way for you to make changes.
Simply filling out your FAFSA will not be enough if you’re hoping to collect various scholarships. Those have separate application processes. Your SAR, or Student Air Report, will be delivered anywhere from three days to three weeks after you submit your FAFSA. This report will show any corrections you need to make to your FAFSA. The corrections should be made and sent back in as soon as possible.
In the spring, you’ll start to receive acceptance letters. Make sure you visit each college before accepting an offer! This ensures you know you’ll be comfortable and happy with whatever college you decide to attend. It’s also important to look at your acceptance offers closely. Check and see what type of financial aid your college is offering you. Make sure you stay on top of any and all deadlines for materials. Each school has its own deadlines for accepting offers and making deposits. But, as a general rule, most universities and colleges require responses by May 1.
Be sure you’re making the most of all your resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Managing your debt and resources requires—yes that’s right– resources. See what fees can be waived, what scholarships you can ask for and what loans may benefit you most.