Getting ready for college can be easier than you think.
TO DO: ALL YEAR
- Work hard all the way to graduation—second-semester grades can affect scholarship eligibility.
- Stay involved in after-school activities, and seek leadership roles if possible.
TO DO: FALL
- As soon as possible, complete and submit your FAFSA form, along with any other financial aid applications your chosen school(s) may require. You should submit your FAFSA form by the earliest financial aid deadline of the schools to which you are applying, usually by early February. Even if you haven’t chosen a school, fill out you FAFSA by the federal deadline.
- After you submit the FAFSA form, 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.
- 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.
- Apply to the colleges you have chosen. Prepare your applications carefully, follow the instructions, and pay close attention to deadlines.
- 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.
- Complete any scholarship applications, closely paying attention to deadlines.
Types of Financial Aid
A grant is a form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid if you complete your education. A variety of federal grants are available.
Many nonprofit and private organizations offer scholarships to help students pay for college or career school.
The Federal Work-Study Program allows you to earn money to pay for school by working part-time.
When you receive a student loan, you are borrowing money to attend a college or career school. You must repay the loan as well as interest that accrues. It is important to understand your repayment options so you can successfully repay your loan.
Aid for Military Families
There are special aid programs or additional aid eligibility for serving in the military or for being the spouse or child of a veteran.
Aid for International Study
Federal student aid may be available for studying at a school outside the United States, whether you’re studying abroad or getting your degree from an international school.
Aid and Other Resources from the Federal Government
Besides aid from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the federal government offers a number of other financial aid programs.