Financial Aid Preparation – FAFSA
Summer Before 12th Grade
Students… To Do:
- Narrow down the list of colleges you are considering attending. If you can, visit the schools that interest you.
- Contact colleges to request information and applications for admission. Ask about financial aid, admission requirements, and deadlines.
- Decide whether you are going to apply under a particular college’s early decision or early action program. Be sure to learn about the program deadlines and requirements.
- Update your information in FAFSA4caster one last time at www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov, and compare the results to the actual costs at colleges to which you will apply. To supplement any aid FAFSA4caster estimates you might receive, be sure to apply for scholarships. Your goal is to minimize the amount of loan funds you borrow.
- Find out what government financial aid you can apply for, and how, in the following parts of Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov/guide:
- Part A, “What You Should Know Before You Apply”
- Part B, “How Do I Apply?,” especially the first two sections, “Getting Your Federal Student Aid PIN” and “Completing the FAFSA”
- Be careful when searching for scholarships: Read “Don’t Get Scammed on Your Way to College!”.
- Review your financial situation and make sure your child is looking into or already has applied for scholarships.
- Ask your employer whether scholarships are available for employees’ children.
- Find out whether your child has added any schools to his or her college wish list since the last time you visited colleges, and visit additional campuses if possible.
- Take a closer look at Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov/guide to ensure you understand the federal aid programs and upcoming application process.
Students… To Do:
- Review “Every Year in High School” of this checklist.
- Work hard all year; second-semester grades can affect scholarship eligibility.
- Stay involved in after-school activities, and seek leadership roles if possible.
- Meet with your school counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate and fulfill college admission requirements.
- If you haven’t done so already, register for and take such exams as the SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Tests, or ACT for college admission.* Check with the colleges you are interested in to see what tests they require.
- Apply to the colleges you have chosen. Prepare your applications carefully. Follow the instructions, and PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO DEADLINES!
- Well before your application deadlines, ask your counselor and teachers to submit required documents (e.g., transcript, letters of recommendation) to the colleges to which you’re applying.
- To prepare to apply for federal student aid, be sure to get a PIN at www.pin.ed.gov so that you can complete your application and access your information online. One of your parents also should get a PIN.
* REMEMBER: Register for all tests in advance and be sure to give yourself time to prepare appropriately! If you have difficulty paying a registration fee, see your school counselor about getting a fee waiver.
- Encourage your parent(s) to complete income tax forms early. If your parent(s) has (have) not completed their tax forms, you can provide estimated information on your federal student aid application, but remember to make any necessary changes later.
- As soon after Jan. 1 as possible, complete and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), along with any other financial aid applications your school(s) of choice may require. You can complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov or on paper, but completing the application online is faster and easier. You should submit your FAFSA by the earliest financial aid deadline of the schools to which you are applying, usually by early February. Refer to “FAFSA Filing Time” as you go through the application process.
- If you have questions about the federal student aid programs or need assistance with the application process, call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or the TTY for the hearing impaired, 1-800-730-8913.
- After you submit the FAFSA, you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within three days to three weeks. Quickly make any necessary corrections and submit them to the FAFSA processor.
- Complete any last scholarship applications.
- Visit colleges that have invited you to enroll.
- Review your college acceptances and compare the colleges’ financial aid packages.
- Contact a school’s financial aid office if you have questions about the aid that school has offered you. In fact, getting to know your financial aid staff early is a good idea no matter what—they can tell you about deadlines, other aid for which you might wish to apply, and important paperwork you might need to submit.
- When you decide which school you want to attend, notify that school of your commitment and submit any required financial deposit. Many schools require this notification and deposit by May 1.
- Refer to Part B of Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid at www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov/guide as you work through the FAFSA process.
- Make informed decisions about student loans; the following resources are important at this point:
- The “Why Get a Federal Student Loan?” section
- Your Federal Student Loans: Learn the Basics and Manage Your Debt, especially the sections headed “PREPARE,” including “How are federal student loans different from private loans?,” and “RECEIVE” (www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov/repayingpub)
- Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid, especially the sections headed “Borrower’s Responsibilities” and “Borrower’s Rights” (www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov/guide)
Parents… To Do:
- Review “Every Year in High School” of this checklist.
- Worth with your child on filling out the FAFSA (see “see “FAFSA Filing Time” for specific instructions).
- Make sure your child’s personal information is safe when he or she applies for financial aid. For tips read “Student Aid and Identity Theft”.
- Read IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Higher Education to see how you might benefit from federal income tax credits for education expenses.
- Understand the benefits of federal student loans by reading “Why Get a Federal Student Loan?”
- Help your child learn about the responsibilities involved in accepting a student loan by reviewing Your Federal Student Loans: Learn the Basics and Manage Your Debt (www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov/repayingpub) with him or her.
- Look at communications from schools to which your child sent FAFSA information. If a school has offered Federal Direct Loans (also called William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans, Direct Stafford Loans, or Direct PLUS Loans), the Direct Loan Basics for Parents brochure might be useful to you.
- Focus on grades and maximizing learning
- Maintain and update personal profile/resume
- Attend college presentations in the Counseling Center by visiting college representatives
- Check high school bulletin and counseling office regularly for new scholarship applications
- Register for ACT/SAT if not yet taken or you can to improve your score
- Register for SAT II if required by schools to which you intend to apply
- Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse if there is a chance you may want to participate in collegiate athletics
- What facilities should ask about financial aid.