Getting Ready for College as a High School Senior Reply

Student Loan

Student loans and scholarship money.

It’s crunch time for high school seniors preparing for college. For many, the end of the prior school year and the summer before senior year was spent applying for scholarships and grants  and spent September applying to colleges.. Most students will have a decision from the colleges they have applied to by April, but there are things that need to be done before then.

Finishing up scholarship applications:

High school seniors should be finishing up the application process for most of their scholarship requests. It is important to review the scholarship application deadlines as well as ensure that all requested information for each scholarship is completed correctly. Many scholarships are very competitive and incomplete or incorrectly completed applications are often not considered. Others may require essays or letters of recommendation or transcripts. It is important to take the time with each scholarship that has not already been submitted to ensure that all requirements have been accurately completed.

Even though college starts in the fall, it is not too late to continue to look for other scholarship opportunities. This may be a good time to check with local social and philanthropic organisations in within the community for further opportunities. College expenses add up quickly and any extra fund sources, even smaller scholarships, are worth the time to investigate.

Two misconceptions regarding completing the FAFSA:

It is time to complete the FAFSA application, if it has not been completed already. Some students and parents think that they must wait until after 2016 income taxes are completed. Others think that they cannot apply for financial aid until they have been accepted by a college. Neither of these are true. FAFSA applications can be completed prior to income tax returns, and can be amended once the returns are completed. If a student has applied for more than one college, information on all colleges can be included in the FAS application.

With the FAFSA application, timing is everything. Many of the grants and financial aid options offered by the FAFSA are offered on a first come, first served basis. The sooner the application is completed, the more opportunities for financial aid will be available.

Most applications to college are decided in March or April. If a student has applied for Early Decision or Early Action, then likely he or she has already received the decision. It is important to speak with admissions counselors and understand the complete admissions process. Regardless of the admissions process for the individual college, having the FAFSA completed will simplify the process.

Learn more about what seniors in high school should be doing for college applications with Peterson’s.

Fill Out Your FAFSA Early to Help You Estimate Your EFC Reply

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College money

Navigating the financial aid process can be confusing and difficult, especially when trying to calculate your estimated family contribution (EFC) on your FAFSA application. Your EFC is a number that determines your eligibility to receive federal student financial aid. This number is calculated by a formula that is established by federal law, and includes your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (unemployment, Social Security, etc.), family size, and other family members who will attend college. Luckily, you don’t have to do this on your own. The US Department of Education makes a lot of great tools to help you estimate the aid you will receive.

First, if you are a high school junior scoping out colleges to attend after you graduate, you should start in January so that you can find out what the cost of attendance (COA) is for each of your prospective colleges. Depending on how much tuition and room and board is going to be, it will help you decide which colleges are worth spending time on.

So, how do you calculate your EFC? After you’ve filled out your FAFSA, this number will be available to you after the FAFSA has been fully processed. Though you are able to fill out your FAFSA between January 1st and June 30th for the same calendar year, you should file the application as soon as they are available so that you don’t miss out on any aid. You will have to fill out the FAFSA every year you attend college, so it is good to get familiar with the process.

However, if you want to estimate your EFC before filling out your FAFSA, there are many free tools online to help you do that. On the Department of Education website, they have a FAFSA4caster that will give you an estimate of your eligibility for need-based and non-need based aid, including federally subsidized and unsubsidized loans and other grants to help you pay for school.

Find out what your EFC is with a free calculator.

5 Ways To Examine Acceptance Rates Reply

spying glassOne of the pieces of information you’re likely to see called out about each and every college you look at is the college acceptance rate. This is the percentage of students who apply to the college and are actually accepted.

Lots of news reports focus on college admissions rates and what they mean, how they connect to the state of higher education as a whole. But what do they really mean for you, the student hoping to apply to these schools? How should they affect your college search? Here are 5 simple ways to understand and use college acceptance rates to improve your college search.

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Debt Versus Education: What You Need To Consider Reply

Education savingsGail Marksjarvis of the Chicago Tribune wrote this article (which is now unfortunately closed off to most viewers on the Chicago Tribune website), stating that students should consider debt when they decide what college to attend. In the past, we’ve argued that college shouldn’t be all about the bottom line, how much money you can make versus how much money you spend. That said, though? Gail Marksjarvis is right — you should consider debt when you decide what school to go to.

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Pay for College, Make Money? Reply

iStock_000004647415XSmallWhile catching up on admissions news over my morning coffee yesterday and putting together our Monday link roundup for this week, I came across an interesting article on CNN Money. The article fascinated me so much that I deliberately left it out of the link roundup, as I wanted to think about it, do a little research, and then talk about it in its own separate post. This is that post, if you haven’t guessed by now. More…

College Costs: Aim High, Pay Low Reply

aid1If you’ve been paying attention to the news for the past day or so, you may have seen reports with headlines like, “College Costs Slow Down,” “Are Soaring College Costs Finally Leveling Off?” and “Annual Rise in Cost of Public College Slows.” All of these articles focus on a new report from the College Board showing that on average, tuition and fees at four-year public schools rose just a hair under 3% this year, the smallest increase in roughly four decades. Obviously that’s good news for students, applicants, and parents everywhere. More…