Financial Aid - when should I apply for?
by: Vanessa McHooley
Many different types of financial aid are available to you in the form of
scholarships, grants, and loans. With billions of dollars at stake, it is important
to begin the search process early and to apply on time. Follow these guidelines
for applying for financial aid:
Three to four years before you plan to begin college…
• Review your high school coursework and activities. Colleges will look
for challenging coursework, a good grade point average, and extracurricular
activities such as sports, volunteer work, and community involvement.
• Take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) to prepare for
the standardized tests (SAT and ACT) that you’ll take later. If you do
well on the PSAT, you may be eligible to receive a National Merit Scholarship.
Two years before you plan to begin college…
• Begin researching your financial aid options by talking to your career
counselor and researching grants and scholarships through books and the internet
• Start planning to take the SAT and/or ACT exams, depending on what
is required by your college.
• During your college visits, meet with a Financial Aid Officer to find
out what types of aid are available.
As soon as possible after January 1 of the year in which you start college…
• Contact the Financial Aid Offices at the colleges of your choice for
deadlines and additional documents they require
• Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Available
at www.fafsa.ed.gov, this form is your key to most financial aid, and to all
Federal and state grants and loans. When you complete your FAFSA, be sure to
list all the schools you’re interested in attending (up to six), even
if you haven’t yet been accepted. Be sure to keep copies of all of the
forms you submit.
• Fill out your tax returns as early as possible so you have accurate
tax information for your FAFSA
• Complete the CSS Financial Aid Profile if it is required by your college
• Find out which financial aid applications your college choices require
and when the forms are due.
• Send midyear transcripts to the schools to which you have applied.
• About four weeks after you submit your FAFSA, you will receive a Student
Aid Report (SAR) that contains federal financial aid information. Submit the
SAR and, if requested, your tax forms to the Financial Aid Office. Contact
each office to make certain that your application is complete. Find out what
else you need to do to establish and maintain your eligibility for financial
This article is distributed by NextStudent. At NextStudent, we believe that
getting an education is the best investment you can make, and we're dedicated
to helping you pursue your education dreams by making college funding as easy
as possible. We invite you to learn more about financial aid at http://www.NextStudent.com.
About The Author
My goal is to help every student succeed - education is one of hte most important
things a person can have, so I have made it my personal mission to help every
student pay for their education. Aside from that, I am just a pretty average
girl from SD.