I know it can be hard to think of high school seniors as organized and methodical, but that is exactly what they need to be in this overwhelming time of applying to college. On top of everything they have to do with current high school classes, and so many restrictions with the COVID pandemic, they still have to get their ducks in a row so they can get into the college of their dreams and find the money to help pay for it. That is quite a big order, so here are the deadlines your senior will need to know for success.
College Admissions Deadlines
Although COVID might affect some timeframes, there are generally a few types of college admissions deadlines:
• Early Decision: This is the deadline to know for the students who have their heart set on one specific college. Students who receive early decision approval agree to attend that college. Early decision deadlines can be as soon as November 1, so most students should be well on their way to having their application submitted.
• Early Action: These acceptances have a little more flexibility. The student gets an earlier response, but is not obligated to commit to that college. Again, these deadlines can be as early as November 1, but there is more opportunity to choose between colleges once you receive responses from each.
• Regular Admissions: This is usually the latest deadline, sometime in late December or early January, but many colleges will have filled a significant portion of their class by then. It is better to apply for an early action or early decision, if you have your list finalized.
• Rolling Admissions: Some colleges are flexible about their admissions deadlines, but here again the advantage goes to the early appliers.
Financial Aid Deadlines
• College Deadlines: Be very aware that each college sets its own deadline for financial aid applications. Here again, students may find that they need to submit their financial aid applications as early as November.
• State Deadlines: Many states have their own forms of financial aid for in-state institutions. While most use the FAFSA, some states do have separate applications. Although timeframes differ, the general recommendation is that you should file as soon as possible after October 1.
• Federal Deadline: Technically you do have until June 30 to submit the FAFSA, but many financial aid funds could be deleted by then. It is best to file as early as possible.
This year it is especially important to keep in top of financial aid deadlines because of the COVID pandemic’s impact on personal financial situations. The FAFSA or CSS Profile will use information from your 2019 income tax returns. If 2020 caused a decrease in income, you will need to leave yourself plenty of time to work with each of your colleges and submit documentation which could support your need for increased financial aid.
Some scholarships come from your college, and are awarded based on your FAFSA information. But there are private scholarships which can provide additional money for your education. These are often based on your personal qualities and abilities. Every scholarship has different rules and different deadlines. Some can be as early as November or December, while some want only applicants who are already in college. The great news is that there is no limit to the amount of scholarships you could receive. If you are having trouble locating scholarship ideas, the CFAA Scholarship Program can help you locate, organize and apply to personalized scholarship opportunities.
The best approach for any deadline is to aim to submit your information before it is due. Last minute scrambles can lead to mistakes and could even cause you to miss out because of silly errors. For the latest financial aid information, look for my weekly JustAskJodi emails.