Now Your Work is Really Cut Out for You
You’re in your final year of high school and there is a lot to be done, both in high school and for college. But hopefully, our little list here is helpful and maps out the steps you need to take to ensure you get into the college you really want to attend.
Things to Do Your Senior Year in High School
- Visit as Many Colleges from Your Favorites as Possible
- Choose the 6 to 10 Colleges to Which You Want to Apply
- Complete and Submit Admission Applications by November 1
- Complete the CSS Profile Before December 1, if Required
- Apply for Your FAFSA PIN(s) Before January
- Compile Your Financial Information at the End of December
- Complete Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid as Close to January 1 as Possible
- Complete Your Federal Tax Return Early in the New Year
- Compare the Financial Aid Offers from the Colleges
- Decide the Lucky College by May 1st
Visit as Many Colleges from Your Favorites as Possible
You want to be as informed about potential schools as you possibly can in order to make the best choices for you. In order to narrow down the list of colleges to the 6 to 10 to which you are going to apply, try to visit as many colleges from your favorites list as is reasonable as soon as possible. Learn more about campus visits or download our campus visit checklist before you go.
Choose the 6 to 10 Colleges to Which You Want to Apply
To ensure you have a good selection of schools and financial aid offers to choose from, you want to apply to 6 to 10 colleges. There should be a mix of safety, match and possibly some stretch schools in your list. Learn more about choosing colleges here.
Complete and Submit Admission Applications by November 1
You want to be sure that you get your applications to your selected colleges on time so you can avoid any difficulty or delays because of a late submission. The goal is November 1st.
Complete the CSS Profile Before December 1, if Required
Some colleges require you to complete a CSS profile as part of the admissions process. Be sure you know which of your schools, if any, want you to submit a CSS profile and ensure you get it in by December 1st.
Apply for Your FAFSA PIN(s) Before January
We recommend that you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. In order to do that you will need to apply for a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Your parents will also need to apply for a PIN if you are a dependent student. Apply for your FAFSA PIN at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Compile Your Financial Information at the End of December
You will want to submit your FAFSA as close to January 1 as possible so be sure you and your parents gather up all your financial information for the year near the end of December. Things to compile include last year's tax return, your end of year paystubs, savings and checking account balances, etc.
Complete Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid as Close to January 1 as Possible
The sooner you submit your FAFSA, the better. Financial aid is distributed on a first come, first served basis so the sooner your application is in the queue, the better your opportunity to secure more financial aid.
Complete Your Federal Tax Return Early in the New Year
This is not the year to wait to complete your taxes. Should you owe taxes, you don’t need to pay them early, but you need your tax returns done to finalize your FAFSA. REMEMBER, you can submit your FAFSA early and then make any corrections post-submission (another reason you need your PIN).
Compare the Financial Aid Offers from the Colleges
You should be getting financial aid offers from the colleges around March or April. This is your opportunity to really begin narrowing down which university you are going to attend. If two schools are very close in your mind, knowing what each is offering you in financial aid can be just what you need to tip the scale. REMEMBER, you can appeal your financial aid offers.
Decide the Lucky College by May 1st
You may be tempted to choose which college you’ll attend early, particularly if you are accepted to your preferred school. However, don’t feel pressured to inform the lucky college too early. AN EARLY DECISION ONLY BENEFITS THE COLLEGE, NOT YOU and there is no need to let them know before the end of April.