Graduating High School? Thinking about college? There’s so much to consider when it comes to getting ready for college: where to go, what to study, how to apply, how to pay for it all, and more.
It’s never too early—or too late—to explore your options for college. Inside this Guide are some key steps in preparing for college and resources that can help you along the way. You’ll have to take the time to research and understand your options, but you don’t have to do it alone. This Guide Can Help!
Why go to college?
More money, more job options, and more freedom. With less than a high school diploma the average inclome is just over $31,000 per year. With an Associates degree your earnings jump to more than $53,000 per year and $75,000 with a Bachelor’s degree. Earnings soar ever higher with a Master’s and/or Doctoral Degree at over $100,000 per year.
As student or parent just about to start college, the following checklists will help you get ready.
1. Work hard all the way to graduation—second-semester grades can affect scholarship eligibility.
2. Stay involved in after-school activities, and seek leadership roles if possible.
3. As soon as possible after its Oct. 1 release, complete and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), at fafsa.gov, along with any other financial aid applications your chosen school(s) may require. You should submit your FAFSA® by the earliest financial aid deadline of the schools to which you are applying, usually by early February.
4. After you submit the FAFSA, you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within three days to three weeks. This document lists your answers to the questions on your FAFSA and gives you some basic information about your aid eligibility. Quickly make any necessary corrections and submit them to the FAFSA processor.
5. If you haven’t done so already, register for and take the standardized tests required for college admission. Check with the colleges you are interested in to see what tests they require. pply to the colleges you have chosen. Prepare your applications carefully. Follow the instructions, and PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO DEADLINES!
6. Well before your college application deadlines, ask your counselor and teachers to submit the required documents (e.g., transcript, letters of recommendation) to the colleges to which you’re applying.
7. Complete any last scholarship applications.
8. Visit colleges that have invited you to enroll.
9. Review your college acceptances and compare the colleges’ financial aid offers.
10. 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.
11. 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 1st.
Notes: a. Understand the FAFSA better by watching the videos in the “FAFSA: Apply for Aid” playlist at www.YouTube.com/FederalStudentAid. b. Follow or like the office of Federal Student Aid at www.Twitter.com/FAFSA and www.Facebook.com/FederalStudentAid to get regular financial aid tips. c. Make informed decisions about student loans; the following resources are important at this point: Federal Versus Private Loans and Federal Student Loans: Basics for Students
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, ask your school counselor about getting the fee waived.
For more information go to: https://studentaid.ed.gov
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