This summer for seniors marks the beginning of their journey to college (after all those standardized tests and AP exams). It’s the time to figure out where you want to apply, what you can afford, and have a good talk with your parents about financial aid. Summer is the time to prepare for the process of financial aid that you’ll be facing in your senior year. So what can you do to prepare for your financial aid forms?
1. Talk to your parents about what you can afford.
It’s important to have a good talk with your parents about how much they’re willing to put towards your college tuition and how much they need you to make up for by working or through scholarships. Here is a really great article on dealing with financial aid and your parents and how important it is to make this a serious conversation.
2. Start looking for payment options now.
Some scholarships have early deadlines in the fall or the winter, so it’s important to start looking for scholarships you can apply for during your senior year now to get prepared. Ask your teachers, guidance counselors, and family friends if they know of any scholarships that you can apply for now. Local scholarships are often the easiest to get and it’s important to get started on them early by asking around in your community. Another good thing to do the summer before senior year is to work to save some money up for school. Look around for jobs you could do in retail, tutoring, yard work, or more.
3. Look at scholarship websites.
Here’s a great article on some scholarship websites that will help you figure out what scholarships to apply for this year. You can filter these scholarships by location, interests, or schools. School-specific scholarships can also be found on these websites, and many of these are often full-ride scholarships that are very beneficial for you to apply for if you want to decrease your college costs.
4. Start looking at forms required for financial aid.
It’s important to get your FAFSA and CSS profile (if required) done early. (For more info, check this article.) Taxes for your family also need to be done with expedience this year, so you need to remind your parents to fill them out earlier this year.
5. Look at school-specific scholarships.
Every school has their own scholarships so the sooner you narrow down your list of schools, the smaller your list of potential scholarships will also be! Each school has their own group of private scholarships, which you will not be able to figure out if you don’t specifically research that school. You could also tell how much the school expects you to pay with their estimated financial aid calculator.
The summer is a good time for rising seniors to start preparing for college, whether in terms of your college essays and your application or figuring out your financial aid. Start working on it now for less stress later. Good luck!