• Senior Student Financial Aid Checklist

    (Juniors scroll down)

     

     

    September

    • Talk to your high school counselor and College & Career Specialist about your college plans and money needs. Ask about scholarships offered by local organizations and businesses.
    • Check out other ways to pay for college at https://studentaid.gov/.
    • Keep a calendar of important deadlines for college admission and financial aid.  
    • Attend your high school’s Senior Night and Financial Aid Nights.
    • Get started filling out forms and writing essays for college admissions and scholarship applications.
    • Make sure you have an e-mail address that’s appropriate for corresponding with colleges, lenders and employers.
    • Visit the website of every college you will apply to and read through their financial aid information. Use their Net Price Calculator tool to get an estimate of what it will cost your family to attend.

    October

    • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) as soon as possible, noting that both open on October 1. 
    • The California Dream Act is for undocumented and nonresident documented students, and the FAFSA is for all other students.
    • Check the box on the FAFSA saying you want to be considered for Work Study
    • Know each college's FAFSA deadline. Most California schools will have a March 2nd deadline but don't wait until then to submit your completed FAFSA.
    • Request any additional financial aid applications your college or financial aid program may require.
    • Determine if any college on your list requires the CSS PROFILE. If so, register for the College Board’s PROFILE application at www.collegeboard.org if you’re applying to a college that requires it.
    • Start applying for outside scholarships. Some may have very early deadlines. 

    November

    • Be sure to meet all financial aid deadlines for your colleges. Some may be earlier than the Cal Grant March 2 deadline.

    December

    • Review your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the FAFSA and make corrections, if necessary. If you don’t receive your report within three weeks of submitting your FAFSA, call toll free 800.433.3243.  The SAR gives you some basic information about your aid eligibility and has the answers you provided on the FAFSA.
    • If you receive a California Aid Report or a corrections letter regarding your eligibility for a Cal Grant, review it carefully and respond, if necessary.
    • Follow the individual instructions received from each college financial aid office (FAO). 
    • Contact a school's FAO if you have any questions about the aid they offered you.
    • Develop a comparison chart of realistic and specific costs for each college. Start with the financial aid office student budget and build upon these. Add unique expenses you might face.
    • Continue to apply for private scholarships and begin applications.
    • Our school maintains a scholarship list on Naviance. Click here to find directions for accessing that list.
    • Also search these scholarship sites:  fastweb.com; www.finaid.org; www.scholarships4school.com and https://www.chegg.com/scholarships

    January

    • Look into Advanced Placement exams for college credit held in the spring at participating high schools.
    • Continue to review your Student Aid Report and make corrections, if necessary.
    • Be sure to meet all financial aid deadlines for your colleges. Some may be earlier than the March 2 Cal Grant deadline.
    • Keep a copy of everything you submit.
    • Continue to research outside scholarships.

    February

    • You will receive a separate communication from the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) about the Cal Grant Program if you listed at least one California college/university on your FAFSA. Go to https://mygrantinfo.csac.ca.gov/ and create your WebGrants 4 Students account (WGS) to monitor your state grant status.
    • If you are awarded a Cal Grant, you can begin claiming your award by verifying your school of attendance in your WebGrants for Students account.

    March

    • Ensure that your FAFSA/CADAA is received by the March 2 deadline.
    • Stay on top of your emails during this time and be sure to follow any instructions given to you by your college. For example, they may request additional financial information from you and you wouldn’t want to miss their deadlines.
    • Watch for college acceptance letters and financial aid offers.

    April

    • Watch for college acceptance letters and financial aid offers.
    • After receiving financial aid offers from the schools where you are accepted, read the entire offer and follow all instructions. Evaluate all financial aid offers carefully. Ask questions! This sheet may help you understand your financial aid offers.
    • Compare the financial aid offers you receive from all schools where you are accepted.
    • Contact the FAO if you have questions or schedule a meeting with your College & Career Specialist.
    • Consider grants, work-study and other aid you don’t have to repay before accepting a student loan.
    • Decide on a college and send in all forms or deposits by the deadline (May 1 for most colleges).
    • Let your college know the financial aid awards you’re accepting and the ones you’re declining.
    • If you applied for a Cal Grant (you submitted the FAFSA or CADAA and your verified Cal Grant GPA by March 2) and have not received a letter regarding your application by April 30, e-mail studentsupport@csac.ca.gov or call toll free 888.224.7268.
    • Stay on top of your emails during this time and be sure to follow any instructions given to you by your college. For example, they may request additional financial information from you and you wouldn’t want to miss their deadlines. 

    May

    • Claim your Cal Grant award by verifying your school of attendance in your WebGrants for Students account.
    • Arrange for housing plans.
    • If you missed the March 2 Cal Grant deadline, complete the FAFSA or CADAA and contact your financial aid office to learn about other financial aid opportunities.
    • If you have applied to a community college, your offer of financial aid notification will probably come later (June or July).
    • Do not make a May 1st deposit until you are sure the offer of financial aid is OK for you and your family. Work with the FAO and Admissions Offices if you have concerns.
    • Use your WebGrants (WGS) account to make school and address changes.
    • Notify the college FAO immediately if you receive any resources (like a scholarship) after you receive your offer of financial aid, or if there are other significant changes in your circumstances.
    • If you receive a student loan offer that you plan to accept, you will be required to complete an “entrance counseling” session and master promissory note before getting the proceeds.
    • If you receive a Federal Work Study offer, find out from the college how you get a job.
    • Remember! You must renew your financial aid application (FAFSA or CADAA) each year.

     

    Juniors

    Fall

    • Explore ways to pay for college www.federalstudentaid.ed.gov
    • Ask teachers, counselors and coaches for leads on private scholarships and search the web
    • Use FAFSA4caster to get an estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid—and shorten the time it will take you to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in your senior year when you apply for financial aid. Visit www.federalstudentaid.ed.gov.
    • Check out colleges or technical and career programs at www.californiacolleges.edu and www.nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator. Start a college folder with the information you collect.
    • Register for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test at your high school.
    • Open a free e-mail account, if you don’t have one already, and make sure your e-mail address is appropriate for corresponding with colleges, lenders and employers.
    • Ask your counselor if any college representatives will be visiting your school or whether a college fair is planned for your community.
    • Review your class schedule with your counselor to make sure you’re on track with your goals.
    • Begin thinking about counselors, teachers, friends or family members to ask to write letters of recommendation for your college admissions and scholarship applications.
    • Get involved in activities at your school or in the community. A number of colleges look at grades as well as outside interests when determining which students to admit. Keep a record in an “activities”folder for future reference.
    • Attend your high school’s college fair and financial aid night. It’s not too early to learn about your options.

    Winter

    • Register and begin studying for your college entrance exams—the SAT Reasoning or Subject tests (www.collegeboard.org), the ACT (www.actstudent.org) or other exam. You’ll find practice questions at these websites.
    • Consider taking any Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or SAT Subject exams in the spring while the information is fresh.
    • Continue to explore colleges or technical and career programs. Put together a list of 10 colleges that interest you.

    Spring

    • Take the SAT, ACT or other college entrance exam. Keep up your grades. Your junior-year grades in particular are important for college admission.
    • Talk to your parents about visiting your top college choices. If possible, arrange for an interview or an overnight stay. Also, find out if a local organization sponsors a college tour during spring break.
    • If you plan to participate in college sports, you may need to register at the beginning of your junior year with the clearinghouse of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, depending on your sport, division or college.
    • Look into summer programs, workshops, internships or jobs.
    • Continue to explore colleges and financial aid opportunities.
    • Look into programs that let you earn money for college for volunteer service.

     

    Information from: California Student Aid Commission (www.csac.ca.gov)