CFAA has been talking to high school then-juniors/now-seniors about college application deadlines since the beginning of the year. We have stressed many times the importance of meeting all college admissions, financial aid, and scholarship deadlines in order to get the best shot at attending a great college with a substantial financial aid package. Despite our best efforts, however, sometimes we get desperate calls from students in December who have already missed some of their deadlines.
Maybe they were overwhelmed, maybe they faced some type of unforeseen event in their lives, or maybe they just fell behind. Whatever the reason, these students are now in a panic about what to do. My advice is to catch your breath, and reevaluate your current situation. It is not too late to take action, but you do have to get organized and work quickly. Here are some steps you can take to catch up with your peers, so you will be attending college in the fall of 2023, too:
- Admissions Deadlines: Although you have probably missed many early decision or early action deadlines, you can still apply to most colleges. Regular admission deadlines usually fall anywhere from early January to mid-February. Some colleges also have rolling admissions, where they accept and evaluate applications until their freshman quota is met. Check the website for each of your colleges to find out their final deadlines, and schedule your time wisely during the winter break to work on those applications first. If you had extenuating circumstances that caused you to miss a deadline for a favored college, contact the admissions office directly to explain your situation and find out what their policy is for late applications.
- Financial Aid Deadlines: You may have already missed some state financial aid deadlines, and some colleges have limited funds available to award, but you can still complete the FAFSA until June of next year for the fall semester. Be prepared that your financial package might not be as substantial as you would have liked, but you will still need the FAFSA completed if you plan on using federal student loans to fill in any funding gaps. CFAA can help students who have missed certain deadlines complete their financial aid applications in a timely manner to make sure you remain eligible for any amount of support that might still be available.
- Scholarship Deadlines: Most scholarships do have an end-of-year deadline, but there are still plenty of opportunities with deadlines that fall at the beginning of the year. You might have to work a bit harder to find and apply to these scholarships, but you should still look for them, especially if your financial aid will be less because of your application delays.
Even if you are too late for your favorite college, you can still make plans to stay on track for a higher education. Perhaps you can apply for the spring semester of 2024, you might be accepted into one of your alternative colleges, or you could decide to apply to a local community college. These should help to keep you in the routine of attending classes and studying until you can apply and transfer to another school.
Some students might decide that it is still too much pressure to apply now, and may decide to take a gap year instead. Talk this over with your parents, and be sure to use your time wisely during this period, so you will have something impressive to show on applications when you do decide the time is right. Next time, though, make a schedule and keep to it!
CFAA guides families through the financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. Schedule a CFAA new client free strategy session or a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college. To get the latest financial aid information and college application to-do lists, look for my bi-weekly JustAskJodi emails and check out my monthly CFAA e-newsletter.