First semester of senior year is winding down. The holiday break and the new year are almost here. Are you finished with your college applications? There are multiple steps to getting a COMPLETE application into the college of your choice. Use the following checklist to see where you are in the process. All of these steps are detailed in your GuidedPath account.
Filling out the college application is only the first part of the process.
- Common Application
- Coalition Application
- State Colleges/Universities Application (like Apply Texas, or the UC System)
- Individual College/University Applications
Check transcript requirements for each college you are applying to. Are you required to send your transcript at the time you apply, after you’ve been admitted, or at the time of enrollment (or all of the above)?
You may need to send another transcript in January. This is known as the “seventh semester transcript.” It shows your grades from your first semester in senior year.
Be sure to request the following test scores to be sent to all your colleges. Be sure to include both past and future test scores for ACT, SAT, and/or SAT Subject tests.
Submit your AP test scores after you graduate, unless requested otherwise.
Check to be sure your counselor and teachers have completed any recommendations you have requested.
Financial Aid forms
College is expensive. Work together with your parents to get your financial aid forms completed.
- FAFSA – ALL colleges use the FAFSA
- CollegeBoard CSS Profile – some private colleges and other programs use an extra financial aid form. It is quite involved and takes a lot of time to complete. Watch for deadlines.
Some special programs (such as honors programs) or scholarships require additional applications. Check college website for additional applications and deadlines.
Check your GuidedPath account and take a look at your application plans. Have you submitted all the requirements for each application? Make a note of any outstanding requirements and get those to the college as soon as possible.
How much will I pay for college?
Paying for college is often compared to paying for airline tickets. No two people pay the same price. So how much will you pay? That depends on many factors. Knowing what those factors are, and how each college will look at your family’s financial situation, will help you determine what your cost of attendance will be.
Am I eligible for financial aid?
Whether you are eligible for financial aid from a college depends on how much money your family can afford to contribute to your education. The FAFSA or the CSS Profile (a financial aid application by the College Board) forms are used to determine your expected family contribution. The forms include questions about:
- Your income (if any) – even babysitting counts
- Your parents’ savings or investments
- Savings or investments in your name
What is an “Expected Family Contribution”?
The data from your FAFSA is used to calculate your “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC). This is the number is the amount (according to the federal government) that your family should be able to afford to pay for one year of college. Colleges use this number to determine how much (if any) need-based financial aid you will receive.
What else is considered?
Besides income and assets, these factors are also considered:
- Your parents’ age. The older they are, the more savings they should set aside to retire.
- Size of your family. Large families need more money to live than small families.
- The number of children in college at one time. If more than one child is enrolled in college simultaneously, the EFC for each child will be less. Unfortunately, parents enrolled in college don’t count.
When do I file my financial aid forms?
Timing is everything when it comes to financial aid. You can complete your FAFSA and CSS Profile now. Plan to file the FAFSA as early as possible. This is the form needed to qualify for financial grants, work-study or student loans from the federal government. The CSS Profile may also be required by the college (or scholarship program). This is the form colleges use to help know who needs money from the college itself. It is their way of distributing their own funds to the students with the most need. Colleges may have priority deadlines for both FAFSA and the CSS Profile. Be sure to meet the early deadlines to have the best eligibility for scholarships and financial aid. Check college websites for deadlines.
Financial Aid Updates
The formula for calculating financial aid is updated every year. GuidedPath uses the latest tables available in the EFC Calculator. Use the EFC Calculator to get an estimate of your financial aid eligibility. Your parents will be glad to know ahead of time what to expect.
Next week – mistakes to avoid when completing your FAFSA!
You can apply for financial aid now!
The first step to getting financial aid is to apply. And although you may still be completing your college application, you can already start filling out the applications for financial aid. The two most used forms are available to be completed now.
What is the FAFSA? FAFSA stands for FREE Application for Federal Student Aid – it is the free government application to apply for federal grants, loans, and work-study for college. All US citizens and students with legal status in the US should complete the FAFSA regardless of whether you think your family’s income and assets will put you out of range for need-based financial aid. Many colleges, state scholarship agencies, and foundations also use the FAFSA in deciding who gets their scholarship money.
What is the CSS Profile? The College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile is an online application developed by the College Board and used by many private colleges (and some public universities) and scholarship programs to award financial aid and/or scholarships. There is a fee to submit the CSS Profile so check the list of colleges and programs to know if you need to complete this application.
- Check Requirements
- Find the FAFSA codes for colleges on your list
- Determine if extra forms such as the CSS Profile or a college specific form is required
- Does your state require additional forms for residents applying to state colleges
- Gather ALL the information needed. Be sure you have:
- Your social security number
- Parents’ social security numbers
- Your income statement (if you had any) for the past year
- Amount in savings, checking or other types of assets
- Copy of latest tax return
- File Early
- File your financial aid forms as early as possible
- Check all deadlines at colleges you are applying to and mark them on your calendar
- Inform Colleges of Special Circumstances. Let the college know in a separate letter if:
- A parent lost a job or had a decrease in income
- Parents divorced recently
- There is a family member with special medical costs
- There are other financial circumstances in your family the college should know about
- Report more information than requested.
- Don’t include assets from parent retirement
- Don’t include a farm your family lives on
- Don’t include a small business income or assets
- Don’t include your family home as an asset
- Create a Financial Aid Form report to use when completing your FAFSA. It summarizes all the financial aid requirements for each of the schools on your list and has the FAFSA codes for all your colleges.
- Complete the EFC Calculator Survey in Surveys section.
- Watch for milestone reminder emails about upcoming financial aid deadlines.
- Check financial aid statistics in GuidedPath on each college on your list.
- Mark off each financial aid milestone as you complete it.