College season: Time for the FAFSA

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s that time of year again. The Fall is when high seniors start to apply for college admissions.

If your child is interested in attending college next Fall, then there are a few steps you will need to complete the application process. For most colleges this includes: application and fee, high school transcripts, and SAT scores.

Colleges may also request letters of recommendation and/or an essay as part of the admissions requirements.

To begin the process, you should first start with listing all the schools that your son or daughter is interested in attending.

You will need to apply to several colleges in order to increase your chances of admission.

Generally, there are three types: match, safety, and dream.

According to The Princeton Review, the match school is one where your credentials meet or exceed college admission requirements.

A good number of match or target schools to apply to would be around three. Preferably to colleges that are in-state with affordable tuition.

A safety school is a college that is likely to accept you as your credentials are above the requirements for admission. This just gives you reassurance that you get in somewhere.

If you do not want to be stuck at home, you should apply to at least two safety schools and that includes community colleges that may allow freshman to live on or near campus.

Lastly, there is the DREAM school. Oftentimes, referred to as the reach, because it can be a long shot to get in. If money is no object, then this is when you shoot for the stars.

Usually dream schools are just that because your credentials fall below the admission standards at this college. However, you can still apply and “see what happens” as far as long shots go, that is the point after all.

The goal is to apply for at least three dream schools for a chance to possibly get into one.

Once you have settled on a college you then have to start thinking about how to pay for it.

Unless you live under a rock, you will notice that college prices are now creeping up to mortgage prices.

If you want a chance to lower the cost of college, you may want to consider affordable in-state or community colleges.

If you are determined, to go out-of-state where you will likely pay three times as much for crossing state lines.

In order, to be considered for federal student loans and state aid, you will need to complete the Free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA now opens on October 1 starting in 2017 for the 2018-2019 academic school year.

You will want to get this done early if you want to be eligible for all the possible merit scholarships given by the college and federal Pell grants. The U.S. Department of Education offers student loans that you repay over time, as well as grants, such as the Pell Grant, that you don’t need to pay back.

Grants are free money for school that does not have to be repaid. So, get those FAFSA applications in ASAP.  Grant money is on a first-come first-served basis, so the earlier you apply the better.

After completing the FAFSA, you can complete your college applications online for a fee to the colleges of your choice.

You should then contact your high school guidance counselor to request copies of your transcripts to send to your selected colleges.

Finally, you will want to send your SAT or ACT scores directly from the CollegeBoard to be considered for admission.

Do not be overwhelmed. It is a straightforward process. Just follow the steps above and get it done.

Good Luck!


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