Searching For Money

If you’re like the vast majority of college students who rely on scholarships to help pay for their college education, now is the time to search for funding. The reason why scholarships and grants are most desirable is because they’re almost always tax-free and do not need to be repaid. (By the way, the terms “grants” and “scholarships” are often used interchangeably.)

Scholarships are available from a variety of sources and here are some things to keep in mind while you’re searching:

  • Most scholarship money is awarded by colleges and universities.
  • Many private colleges and some state schools require you to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE in order to be considered for these scholarship programs as well as for non-federal financial aid.
  • Some schools also require their own supplemental application forms.
  • Don’t miss out on any opportunities. Keep track of deadlines because they vary from school to school and may even be earlier than the school application due date.
  • Scholarships and grants may be awarded based on financial need and/or merit.
  • Merit aid may be awarded for any number of criteria including academic, athletic or artistic accomplishments.
  • Scholarships and grants may even be contingent on meeting certain requirements such as maintaining a minimum GPA.
  • Some scholarships are awarded as a lump sum while others may require you to reapply annually.
  • Private and public sources also award a great number of scholarships, although they account for a much smaller percentage of the total pool available.
  • Depending on your personal profile, you may be eligible for scholarships offered by a variety of organizations representing many special interests.
  • Some scholarships may be career specific – available to students studying to become teachers, while others may be student specific – available to students from a military family or specific ethnic group, and even to students with a unique hobby.

A helpful resource to match you with scholarships is fastweb.com. There are also many other resources worth exploring. Talk to your guidance counselor for additional information. Visit your guidance office to pick up scholarship applications and look through the lists of special scholarships available to students in your school district and town.

Now’s the time to search for scholarships. Make a list of those scholarships you plan to  apply for with their respective due dates and check them off as you complete your applications. Apply as soon as possible to maximize your chance for help funding your college education.

 

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Registration Reminder

Today is the registration deadline for the February 9th ACT.

 

 

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CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE

Most college students receive some form of financial aid. You may not be sure you’ll qualify for aid and you won’t know unless you apply. Each college and university has their own requirements for students applying for financial aid, scholarships and grant money. Check the financial aid section of each school’s website or call the financial aid office directly to confirm their requirements.

Schools use a number of aid forms. By now you should have completed or are working on your FAFSA application. Another form required by hundreds of colleges to determine student eligibility for non-federal student aid, both merit and need-based, is the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, short for the College Scholarship Service Profile, and distributed by College Board.

Keep these things in mind when considering your financial aid options:

  • The CSS/PROFILE must be completed online in order to be considered for all need-based university grants and scholarships.
  • Register online a few weeks before your earliest college or scholarship priority filing date so you have plenty of time to complete the form. If you already have a College Board account, you can use your user name and password for the CSS/PROFILE as well.
  • Don’t forget to keep your user name and password in a safe place for future reference.
  • After you’ve registered with College Board, look through the list of participating colleges and universities to determine if any of the schools on your list use the CSS/PROFILE as part of their financial aid process and keep a list of each school’s code.
  • Once you’ve registered, you can finish the PROFILE in one siting or save your information and return to it at a later time.
  • The information you provide in your PROFILE will be sent by College Board to the colleges and universities that you specify.
  • Make sure to pay attention to the priority and closing filing dates for each school.
    Some aid is granted on a first-come, first-served basis, so apply as early as allowed.
  • When you’re done, print the acknowledgment page and file it in a safe place.
  • You can use the pre-application worksheet to help you get ready to complete the application.

It’ll be helpful to have the following documents handy:

  • Current and previous year’s income tax returns
  • W2 forms and other records of income earned in the current year
  • Records of untaxed income and benefits for the current and previous tax years, current bank statements, and records of savings, stocks, bonds, trusts, and other investments

 

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Double Check Your Applications are Complete

You’ll want to check that all the required components for your applications have been received, as many schools will not review your application until your file is complete.  The easiest way to do this is to get organized by creating a list of your schools and the requirements for each one. Then, using the online service your high school subscribes to, consulting the online tracking system you may have been assigned by each individual college, or checking by phone, verify that each school has received the following components:

  • The Common Application
  • Individual school application and/or supplement, if applicable. This may include an essay or personal statement.
  • Standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, SAT II, AP, TOEFL)
  • Official high school transcript
  • Mid-year grades
  • Guidance counselor letter of recommendation
  • Letters of recommendation (from teachers, coaches, employers)
  • Application fee or waiver
  • Elective supplementary material
  • FAFSA
  • CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
  • Individual school and state required financial aid forms

If anything is missing, take action immediately by following-up. For example, if you’ve been advised that a letter of recommendation is missing, reach out to the writer and confirm that it has been submitted. It’s possible that the college has the letter but it has not yet make it’s way into your file. The same could be true for your transcript. Standardized test score may also take some time to be posted to your file. With all the application materials being submitted, it’s easy to understand how admission offices can get backlogged.

Once you confirm your file is complete, your job is done!

 

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Early Decision

December is early decision time, so if you applied early decision or early action soon it will be time to take the next step.  For those of you who applied rolling and have received news it’s also time for you to take action.  This is what you will need to do:

ACCEPTED: If you receive(d) an acceptance, congratulations!!

Early decision is binding.

  • As an admitted student, confirm your intention to enroll by sending in a non-refundable deposit by the school’s required due date.
  • Withdraw all your other applications.
  • Check your inbox often. You’ll be receiving mailings relating to housing, medical and health forms, registration for special programs for admitted students, and invitations to special events that may require your response.

Early action is not binding.

  • If you’ve been admitted and you’re certain this is the school for you, submit your deposit and secure your spot in the class of 2022. Although not required, it’s considerate to other applicants to withdraw your outstanding applications to other schools.
  • If you’re not sure this is the school for you or need to evaluate your financial aid offers and want to leave your options open, hold off until you’ve received all your other admissions decisions.

Rolling admission is not binding.

  • As with early action decisions, you don’t need to respond until you are absolutely certain this is the school you would like to attend.
  • Unless you’re sure this is the school for you, finish your other applications and send them in by the due dates.

DEFERRED: For those of you who have been deferred, take a deep breath.

  • Think about whether your early decision school is truly your first choice. If you believe the answer is yes, communicate that thought to your admission rep by letter, sending it both by snail mail and email. Express the reasons this is your top school and offer to provide any additional information they may want to further support your application.
  • Talk to your guidance counselor about your plans. Also, ask him/her to reach out to your admissions rep to speak on your behalf.
  • Turn your focus to completing all your other applications.

Whether deferred or rejected, please realize this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not qualified, it may simply mean there’s not enough room for all the accomplished candidates. Take a step forward and complete the applications for the other schools on your list and get excited about your other options.

For those of you who have committed to a school, remember to reach out and thank your teachers and counselors and anyone else who has supported you in your college bound process. A hand written note is a really nice touch. Also, keep in mind acceptances are conditional on maintaining your grades throughout senior year.

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Get Ready for Tomorrow’s ACT

A few thoughts if you’re scheduled to take tomorrow’s ACT.

To minimize your stress tomorrow morning, it’s a great idea to get organized ahead of time. The last thing you need on test morning is a desperate scramble. These are some of the things you can do tonight to get your big day off to a great start:

First, check with your parents to make sure they know when and where you’re scheduled to take the test, and arrange how you’ll get to the test center. Next, gather and pack all the things you’ll need to take with you. Some of the things on this check list are “must-have” items, while others are optional.

REQUIRED: Don’t forget any of the following items or it will be a long ride home!

  • An approved calculator
  • Sharpened #2 pencils
  • An acceptable form of photo ID
  • Your admission or standby ticket

SUGGESTED:

  • Water
  • Snack
  • Sweater
  • Back-up calculator
  • Extra batteries for your calculator
  • Watch (to keep track of time)

Set your alarm, get a good night’s sleep and have a healthy, satisfying breakfast.

Good luck!

 

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FAFSA State Deadlines

As we’ve posted previously, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is used to determine eligibility for federal financial aid. Many states also use the FAFSA to award aid, so students, please be aware of those deadlines.  It’s in your best interest to apply for aid as soon as possible as some states award aid on a first come basis until funds run out.  A missed deadline may result in a missed opportunity.

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