Senior year is a whirlwind of activities. This is a big year for your child as he or she balances schoolwork, extracurricular activities and the college application process. Use the suggestions below to help you and your child successfully navigate this important time.
Visit colleges together. If you haven’t already, make plans to check out the campuses of colleges in which your child is interested. Use the Campus Visit Checklist to learn how to get the most out of these experiences.
Ask how you can help your senior finalize a college list. You can help him or her choose which colleges to apply to by weighing how well each college meets his or her needs, for example. Find out more about how to finalize a college list.
Find out a college’s actual cost. Once your 12th-grader has a list of a few colleges he or she is interested in, use the College Board’s Net Price Calculator together to find out the potential for financial aid and the true out-of-pocket cost— or net price—of each college.
Encourage your child to get started on applications. He or she can get the easy stuff out of the way now by filling in as much required information on college applications as possible. Read about how to get started on applications.
Help your child decide about applying early. If your senior is set on going to a certain college, he or she should think about whether applying early is a good option. Now is the time to decide because early applications are usually due in November. Read about the pros and cons of applying early.
Gather financial documents: To apply for most financial aid, your child will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You'll need your most recent tax returns and an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA, which opens Oct. 1.
Create a calendar with your child. This should include application deadlines and other important dates. Your child can find specific colleges’ deadlines in College Search. If your child saves colleges to a list there, he or she can get a custom online calendar that shows those colleges’ deadlines.
Help your child prepare for college admission tests. Many seniors retake college admission tests, such as the SAT, in the fall. Learn more about helping your 12th-grader prepare for admission tests.
Help your child find and apply for scholarships. He or she can find out about scholarship opportunities from the school counselor. Your high school student will need to request and complete scholarship applications and submit them on time. Learn more about scholarships.
Offer to look over your senior’s college applications. But remember that this is your child’s work so remain in the role of adviser and proofreader and respect his or her voice.
Fill out the FAFSA to apply for aid beginning Oct. 1.. The government and many colleges use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to award aid. Now it’s easier than ever to fill out this form because you can automatically transfer your tax information online from the IRS to the FAFSA. Read How to Complete the FAFSA to learn more.
Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®, if required. If your child needs to submit the PROFILE to a college or scholarship program, be sure to find out the priority deadline and submit it by that date. Read How to Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.
Encourage your child to set up college interviews. An interview is a great way for your child to learn more about a college and for a college to learn more about your child. Get an overview of the interview process.
Work together to apply for financial aid. Have your child contact the financial aid offices at the colleges in which he or she is interested to find out what forms students must submit to apply for aid. Make sure he or she applies for aid by or before any stated deadlines. Funds are limited, so the earlier you apply, the better.
Learn about college loan options together. Borrowing money for college can be a smart choice — especially if your high school student gets a low-interest federal loan. Learn more about the parent's role in borrowing money.
Encourage your senior to take SAT Subject Tests. These tests can showcase your child’s interests and achievements — and many colleges require or recommend that applicants take one or more Subject Tests. Read more about SAT Subject Tests.
Encourage your child to take AP Exams. If your 12th-grader takes AP or other advanced classes, have him or her talk with teachers now about taking these tests in May. Read more about the AP Program.
Help your child process college responses. Once your child starts hearing back from colleges about admission and financial aid, he or she will need your support to decide what to do. Read about how to choose a college.
Review financial aid offers together. Your 12th-grader will need your help to read through financial aid award letters and figure out which package works best. Be sure your child pays attention to and meets any deadlines for acceptance. Get more information on financial aid awards.
Help your child complete the paperwork to accept a college’s offer of admittance. Once your child has decided which college to attend, he or she will need to review the offer, accept a college’s offer, mail a tuition deposit and submit other required paperwork. Learn more about your high school senior's next steps.
Complete your FAFSA. You can submit the FAFSA after Oct. 1 — sooner is better so you can qualify for as much financial aid as possible. Filling out the form online at fafsa.ed.gov is the fastest way to do it.
Research local scholarship opportunities. Talk to your school counselor, teachers or other adults in your community about scholarships offered by local organizations. Go to your local library and ask for help. Ask your parents to see if their employers grant scholarships. And don’t forget to check the College Board’s Scholarship Search.
Look up deadlines. Don’t miss the priority deadlines for your colleges’ financial aid applications — meeting these will help you get as much money as possible. You can compare deadlines for different colleges by using the College Searchtool. And be sure to find out the application deadlines for any private scholarships or loans you plan to apply for.
Get an estimate of what the colleges on your final list will actually cost. Get a better idea of what you’ll pay to attend a college by looking at its estimated net price — the cost of attending a college minus grants and scholarships you receive. You can get this figure by going to the net price calculator on the college’s website or, for some colleges, by using the College Board’s Net Price Calculator.
Find out about different kinds of student loans. Not all student loans are equal. Loans come from different sources, and some kinds are more expensive than others. Read Types of College Loans to learn more.
Find out if you need to file a CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®. A college may require students to complete this application — or the college’s own forms — to apply for financial aid awarded by the institution.
Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, if required. If you need to submit the PROFILE to a college or scholarship program, be sure to find out the priority deadline and submit it by that date. Read How to Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.
Apply for any private scholarships you’ve found. Make sure you understand and follow the application requirements and apply by the deadline.
Compare your financial aid awards. The colleges you apply to will send financial aid award letters to tell you how much and which kinds of aid they’re offering you. Use the Compare Your Aid Awards calculator to make side-by-side comparisons of each college’s aid package.
Select a financial aid package by the deadline. Once you’ve compared the offers, you and your family should discuss which package best meets your needs. Financial aid is limited, so if you don’t accept your award on time, it may go to another student. You can, however, ask for an extension if you are waiting to hear from other schools. Each college will decide if it’s able to give you an extension.
Contact a college’s financial aid office, if necessary. Financial aid officers are there to help you if you have questions. If your financial aid award is not enough, don’t be afraid to ask about other options.
Complete financial aid paperwork. If loans are part of your financial aid package, you’ll have to complete and submit paperwork to get the money.
Get ready to pay the first college tuition bill. This usually covers the first semester and is due before you enroll.
Local Scholarship Application
Seniors may apply to up to five (5) scholarships from the list. The deadline to submit all applications is Friday, February 28, 2020, by 3:00 PM. No late submissions would be accepted.