October Financial Aid Checklist for Seniors

 

Paying for college is a concern for most families. This is the second installment in a monthly series for seniors on what you should be doing with regard to financial aid, written by college advisor Alice Kleeman. Remember, while in most families it is up to the parents to provide the bulk of the money for college costs to the extent of their ability to pay, it is the student who applies for student aid. Read, save and use these monthly reminders!

 

          *             Check with your high school about the availability of informational sessions on financial aid or      scholarships at your school or in the surrounding community.

          *             Never pay a fee to locate financial aid or scholarship information. Beware of scams. You may see offers of help in obtaining financial aid or scholarships in the mail, on the Web, and in magazines. Some of these are legitimate. Others are not. Avoid any organization or service that either guarantees a reward or charges a fee for completing the FAFSA or applying for or receiving a scholarship. Information on legitimate financial aid and scholarships is easily available at no cost at:

                      • FAFSA

                     • The U.S. Department of Education

                     • College Goal Sunday

                     • The College Board

                     • Fastweb.com

                    • FinAid

                    • Your local library

                    • Your high school college counseling office

           *             Continue to use net-price calculators on the websites of the colleges to which you are applying. These tools can provide an early and valuable understanding of what your aid award may look like and what you may be asked to pay at individual colleges. But remember this is just a start for your financial aid process.   One further caveat: your actual financial aid offer may differ from the information on the calculator, based on a variety of factors. 

           *             Begin to complete the CSS PROFILE (College Scholarship Service Profile) that is available from the College Board. Many private colleges and universities require this additional financial aid form. A list of the schools that require the CSS PROFILE can be found here. It is required in addition to the FAFSA in order to be considered for receiving institutional financial aid at the listed schools. The CSS PROFILE should be completed by the earliest school or program filing date.

          *             Begin to keep track of financial aid requirements and deadlines at the schools to which you are applying. Read all financial aid information carefully, paying particular attention to eligibility, requirements and deadlines. Use the Financial Aid Deadline Organizer available here. Or your high school may have a system, such as Naviance, for tracking progress and deadlines. Check with your high school guidance or college counselor.

          *             Visit and ask questions of your college counseling center or high school guidance counselor! Don't forget to inquire about state financial aid and state scholarships, as well as any special requirements for applying for aid at the public universities in your state.

          *             If you do not have a Social Security number, talk to a trusted counselor or teacher about how to pursue and apply for financial aid and scholarships.

 

Alice Kleeman has served as the college advisor for 18 years in the College and Career Center of Menlo- Atherton High School, a public high school of 2,000 students in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also teaches each summer on the faculty of the College Board’s Summer Admission Institute for new admission officers.

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