Financial Aid

Seniors: File the FAFSA!

Apply for financial aid by completing the FAFSA! The single largest mistake families make in the college application process is failing to apply for financial aid. So apply, even if you think you won't qualify. You may be surprised.  Whether you are considering attending two-year or four-year colleges— all students applying for financial aid will complete a FAFSA.

And check to see if the schools on your list also require the CSS PROFILE (College Scholarship Service Profile) that is available from the College Board. Many private colleges and universities -- and some scholarship programs -- require this financial aid form in addition to the FAFSA in order for you to be considered for receiving institutional financial aid. A list of the schools and programs that require the CSS PROFILE can be found here. The CSS PROFILE should be completed by the earliest school or program filing date. Check the deadlines at each college to which you are applying.

Information on financial aid can be found here:

The U.S. Department of Education

January Financial Aid Checklist for Seniors

It's time to apply, apply, apply for financial aid! College advisor Alice Kleeman is back to kick off the New Year with advice for seniors on what you should be doing. Remember it is you, the student, who applies for aid. But families need to work together to obtain the best result. Here are this month's reminders. Read, save and use them!

*             Check with your high school counselor about financial aid evening workshops scheduled at your school or in the community and attend with your parents!  

*             Complete the FAFSA, reading all instructions CAREFULLY! You do NOT have to wait until you and your parents have filed your income tax returns; you may use estimates on the FAFSA and then update the information once you have filed your income tax forms. It is better to file on time with estimates than to file late!

*             Submit your FAFSA electronically as soon as possible! Once submitted, the colleges you have listed and coded will receive your information electronically.

*             Each state also has its own FAFSA deadline, which in many cases is different from the federal submission deadline each year.  Make sure to submit your FAFSA by your state's deadline or as soon as possible after the first of the year to get the most financial aid possible. Deadline information can be found here.

Jim Montague, Boston Latin School, and Helen Montague, Lincoln School

Jim Montague is Director of Guidance and Support Services at Boston Latin School in Boston, Massachusetts, a public college preparatory school serving an urban, culturally and socioeconomically diverse student population in grades 7 to 12. Helen Montague is Director of College Counseling at Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island, an urban independent college preparatory school for girls from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. We are pleased to feature this husband and wife team as our counselors of the month for January in the new year of 2013. Twice the advice from a duo of counselors who approach our questions from the vantage points of two distinguished educational institutions.

Boston Latin is this country’s oldest school, founded in 1635, with 2,414 students among whom today more than 40 languages are represented. Latin admission is based on a secondary school exam and a strong academic record.  “We think of them as the best and brightest in the city of Boston,” says Jim Montague.

December Financial Aid Checklist for Seniors

College advisor Alice Kleeman is back this month with advice for seniors on what you should be doing with regard to financial aid. Remember it is you, the student, who applies for aid. But families will need to work together to obtain the best result. Here are this month's reminders. Read, save and use them!

*          Most importantly, do apply for financial aid to be sure you are considered for all assistance available. Even if you think you won't qualify, apply. You may be pleasantly surprised.

*          December is a good time for families to gather all the tax-related information that is available before the year's end; this will facilitate early filing of both taxes and the FAFSA in the new year. The FAFSA can be filed based on estimates if tax returns are not completed, but beginning to assemble all the important information necessary for prompt tax filing can hasten the process for a year in which a family is applying for financial aid. Just remember, do not SUBMIT your FAFSA before January 1—it will not be processed for the correct school year!

Andrea O'Gorman, Scarsdale High School

Andrea O'Gorman, Director of Counseling at Scarsdale High School, is our December Counselor of the Month. O'Gorman oversees a department of nine counselors at this Westchester County, New York, public high school, serving 1460 students.  Named as "one of the 144 exemplary schools to which others may look for patterns of success" by the United States Department of Education, Scarsdale High School serves a diverse community with a large international population. 

"The thing that I enjoy most about working here is that students and faculty are so engaged in the learning process," says O'Gorman. "There is so much going on, so many new ventures. Education is the industry of Scarsdale. People come here because they want a school system they can invest in and parents, faculty and the administration are invested. Everyone feels like a stakeholder."

Best Advice from our College Counselors


October is the cruelest month for high school college counselors, besieged on all sides with seniors intent on applications and juniors beginning their college search and testing. So we gave the counselors a pass for the month. Instead of our Counselor of the Month feature, we bring you a round-up of best advice from the counselors who have graced our website with their guidance and wisdom. Read on to learn their recommendations for applying and financial aid, mistakes to avoid, guidance for students with learning differences and undocumented students, and do's and don'ts for students -- and parents, as well.  One of our personal favorites?  From Albuquerque Academy's Ralph Figueroa: "Proofread. Spell Czech is knot yore friend and it will betray ewe." See more from Figueroa and others here: 

Alice Kleeman, Menlo-Atherton High School, Atherton, California

What is your best advice for applicants?

Have fun with the process; you have the opportunity to think about who you are and who you want to become. Why shouldn't that be enjoyable?


Jayne Caflin Fonash, Academy of Science, Loudoun County, Virginia

What is the biggest mistake you see students make in applying to college?

Seniors: You don't have to jump on the early bandwagon

In October of senior year, it may seem like everyone is jumping on the early admission bandwagon. Students report a lot of pressure to apply early. It comes from peers, parents, newspaper headlines— and sometimes it comes from oneself. But there is nothing wrong with sitting out this round and opting for more time and the greater choice it allows. There are distinct advantages to waiting and applying regular decision. Before you jump on the early bandwagon, seriously consider whether it's right for you.  That depends on a number of factors. Most important are the plans offered at the colleges on your list, especially the ones that have emerged as your top choices. Other factors that you must consider include your own goals, your grades and test scores, and your family’s need for financial aid.


For more information about early programs, including a list of questions to help you figure out whether an early program is right for you, see Chapter 15, "Decision Plans," in College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step.

Thank you, thank you

Thank you to the students, parents, and counseling staff of Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School in northern California! It was wonderful to have the opportunity to talk with all of you about everything from college visits and extracurriculars to AP's and financial aid. And it's great to hear what is on the minds of students and parents when it comes to college admission!

Monthly Financial Aid Checklist for Seniors

Paying for college is a concern for most families. This post marks the first of 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!