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Financial Aid Toolkit

August

  • Review Course Planner—be sure that you have taken (or are scheduled to take) all the courses you’ll need for graduation and admission to your preferred colleges. Visit your school counselor
  • Strongly consider taking AP courses and exams. They offer the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at most of the nation’s colleges and universities
  • Make a list of all the things you need to do and the deadlines you need to meet during senior year.
  • Create a college file box for home containing separate folders to maintain testing documents and scores, college admissions requirements, financial aid applications, correspondence from colleges, etc.
  • Develop a resume or portfolio to demonstrate evidences of employment, educational experiences, civic, community, and leadership involvement. Volunteer in the community and/or at local schools. List your achievements, honors, activities, etc.
  • Revisit Future for Kids and research your interest inventories with possible careers—visit universities and review what degree programs align with your strengths
  • Request application materials for admissions and financial aid from colleges of interest—narrow the list to 3-5 schools
  • Be sure to remain in rigorous courses during senior year, the grades you earn in the fall of your senior year are usually the last to reflect on your academic transcripts before they’re sent to your colleges of choice
  • Review scholarships and deadlines posted at your high school and colleges of choice (go on website and look in the catalogs), and the internet. Determine which scholarships and financial aid you will apply for, and note requirements and deadlines
  • Get your registration materials and look at test dates to take or retake the ACT or SAT
  • Think about who will write recommendations—teachers, counselors, and other individuals that will provide references. The forms should be given to these people at least one month before they are due. Don’t forget to write thank-you notes to these individuals
  • Complete a ‘Brag’ Sheet to provide to selected people who agree to write recommendations
  • Recommend college representatives to the school counselor that you would like to speak with

Visit these websites and explore for information

Future for Kids : http://f4k.org/

Career Cruising (From F4 Kids) https://www.careercruising.com (Access from PSRC website)

College Foundation of North Carolina http://www.cfnc.org/

US Department of Education http://www.college.gov/

Free Application for Federal Student Aid http://fasfa.ed.gov/

*Keep a check on your high school website for posted information

September

  • oVisit college/university fairs
  • oBegin writing your essay(s) for college admission and scholarship applications—Attend Saturday Academies for help from English
  • teachers/AIG teachers. Ask for feedback from your English teacher and revise, revise, revise.
  • oAttend parent/student financial aid workshops at your high schools and in the community
  • oApply for scholarships—make copies to keep for your records
  • oIf you are seeking athletic scholarships, contact the coaches from your colleges of interest
  • oGive recommendation forms and Bragg Sheets to individuals that will support you in your efforts—write thank you notes
  • oMake copies of all applications and other materials sent to colleges for your files
  • oDeadlines for colleges vary—make sure you understand or post deadlines for your applications.
  • oSend your college applications—apply to ‘dream’ schools and ‘safety’ schools
  • oRequest high school transcripts from the school counselor office sent to your colleges of interest
  • oCall the Admissions Office to make sure they receive your application….don’t forget to ask for the admission representative’s name…write down for future reference
  • oStay involved with civic, community, and leadership roles
  • oRemember fall semester courses during the senior year count in ranking—
  • oAccept roles that reflect leadership skills development or positions in organizations/clubs
  • oRefresh skills to retake the ACT or SAT

October

  • oTake or retake the ACT or SAT—remember to take tests like the ACT or SAT at least six weeks before the deadline for scores to be submitted to colleges
  • oApplications—don’t wait until the final deadline. Don’t forget to make copies of application and other materials
  • oAttend special programs such as college fairs and financial aid nights
  • oLook and listen for announcements about bulletins and scholarship databases—use the counselor office
  • oCheck private universities that may require that you register for CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE (This determines your qualification for private school aid)
  • oContinue to personalize, revise, and edit essays for financial aid
  • oGo to open houses for colleges or universities that you are interested in

November

  • Continue to work on financial aid applications. Check with the counselor office and on school website, college of choice website, and the internet for application opportunities. Listen for announcements from school counselor office or information posted in counselor office and school website
  • o Determine what information is required and when the applications are due
  • oCheck with the colleges to find out when materials (college applications and financial aid information) must be postmarked or submitted
  • electronically
  • oContinue to volunteer and pursue extracurricular activities
  • oContinue to preserve with academic rigor in high school courses

December

  • oBoys who are 18 years or older must be registered for Selective Service to receive financial aid
  • oCheck correspondence to assure all colleges received your application packet, if not follow-up with a phone call to Admissions Office—don’t
  • forget to ask the person’s name you speak with and include this in your file.
  • oSubmit any last college applications. Make sure to submit official high school transcripts.
  • oAsk your parents to save their year-end payroll stub if it shows earnings for the year. It may be needed for financial eligibility reviews by
  • schools
  • oFASFA—Apply for pin a pin number. Parents and students must have a pin number (separate numbers)

January

  • Don’t fall prey to “Senioritis!” All college acceptances are provisional-contingent upon maintaining the present level of achievement plus successful completion of this semester’s work
  • oBegin to complete the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) application as soon as possible—look at timelines for completing submission—the earlier you submit it the more available money is to help pay for college
  • oKeep FAFSA on your calendar every year in higher education—your financial aid office must re-determined your financial aid and eligibility
  • oPARENTS: It is helpful to get income tax returns prepared early—schools may request information to verify eligibility for financial aid
  • oSubmit required additional financial aid documentation to your colleges of interest
  • oReview transcript and Course Planner—check required courses for graduation—make sure you are on track and have completed all requirements for graduation and higher education before last semester

February

  • Men 18 years of age and over must register for the Selective Service in order to receive federal financial aid
  • oCheck to see if your mid-year transcripts have been sent to the schools to which you have applied
  • oComplete FAFSA online application, if you have not done so.
  • oRevisit your finalized list of colleges—rank the list
  • oResearch the advantages of taking Advanced Placement (AP) or College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams
  • oKeep copies of all documents you submit to colleges
  • oWhen you receive the results of your financial aid application, correct and return if necessary or sign and submit to your colleges of interest

March

  • oLook for your Student Aid Report (SAR) in the mail. Your SAR contains federal financial aid information. Make any necessary corrections.
  • oSubmit SAR and tax forms to the financial aid office if requested. Contact each office to make certain that your application is complete. Find out what else you need to do to establish and maintain your eligibility for financial aid…
  • oLook for Pell Grant program information in your Student Aid Report
  • oKeep copies of all documents you submit to the financial aid office
  • oIf you have not received your Student Aid Report four weeks after sending in your FAFSA, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center
  • oReview your college financial aid award letter with your parent(s) or guardian. And be sure that you understand the terms and conditions stated—Sign and return your award letter
  • oRespond immediately to all correspondence regarding college, scholarships, and financial aid—call the office(who sent the correspondence) if you are not sure what to do
  • oWhen you contact offices at the university/college…ask who you are speaking with….keep notes of the representative’s name and what they said concerning your information

April

  • oWatch the mail or email notifications for college acceptance and financial aid award letters.
  • oCheck with the college you’ve chosen about the details of signing and returning financial aid award letters.
  • oCompare the financial aid awards you receive
  • oEvaluate your options and make your final college selection.
  • oSend in a deposit (or contact the admissions office) by the deadline
  • oNotify the other schools that you will not be attending
  • oWatch for important deadlines at your chosen college (housing, financial aid, etc.).

May

  • Make sure that you accept the financial aid award from the college you decide to attend. You should decline offers from the other schools so those funds can be made available to other students
  • Attend and participate in Freshman Orientation at your college of choice—register for freshman courses
  • Clear all senior obligations with school counselor at high school
  • Notify your counselor of any awards or scholarships (academic, artistic, dramatic, etc.) that you receive
  • Take Advanced Placement (AP) exams that are given in your high school – these exams are given nationwide, so take advantage of the opportunity.
  • Don’t forget to study for final exams-the grades you receive still count.
  • Review finances—if needed, apply for loans (Stafford, PLUS, look at CFNC)

References:

  • The Road to College: A High School Senior Checklist
  • College Prep101.com—Lance A. Millis
  • http://ck014.k12.sd.us/senior_year_checklist.htm

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