Financial Aid Timeline
To make sure you get the most financial aid, plan ahead.
Here’s a simple outline of when you should start various parts of the financial aid process.
SENIOR YEAR – FALL
- Find the cost of attendance for each of your prospective colleges.
- Research scholarships, loans, and grants available through prospective colleges.
- Send in applications for admission and financial aid.
SENIOR YEAR – WINTER
- Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) either online,or by mail. For a list of sites that give students and parents advice on the financial aid process, see our links page.
- Make sure all FAFSA and related financial aid forms have been completed by February 15 for maximum access to awards granted.
- Make sure you and your parents have filed their tax returns as quickly as possible, in order to speed up the Financial Aid process. Before the school can finalize your financial aid, you might be asked to provide copies of tax return transcripts in order to verify the information entered on your FAFSA.
SENIOR YEAR – SPRING
- Once you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education, review it closely, and make any revisions necessary. The SAR is the response that you will receive when your FAFSA is processed.
- Compare financial aid packages from colleges to which you have been accepted.
- Accept all financial aid packages – you can decline any of them later.
- Select your college! Make sure to notify each of the colleges to which you are declining admission.
And there’s more! Choosing the right college also means asking the right questions and doing your research. In addition to requesting information from schools and taking a campus tour, be sure to speak with an admissions representative from the college about any questions you might have. Some topics you might want to cover include:
Tuition and Fees:
- In addition to the cost of attending classes, ask about any additional fees (housing, meal plans, student activities, living expenses, and books).
- Is it less expensive to live in or outside the dorms? What is rent like in the area?
- Before you start the aid process, make sure you gather your/your parents’ financial information.
- Don’t forget your Social Security number on all your applications! If you’re unsure of the number, ask your parents.
Remember, don’t get scared of tuition costs – this is where financial aid comes in. Colleges and the government understand that many students cannot afford to pay full tuition at a private school for their undergraduate years. That’s why there are so many scholarships, loans, and grants available for incoming college students. See both our Pace Scholarships & Grants and Federal Aid pages for more information, or see the links page for information on outside aid packages.
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