Spring is a time of moving up for high school students. Seniors are moving up to college after graduation, and high school juniors become seniors for the fall. The transition from high school junior to senior is full of many changes. There’s so much to do as a rising senior. For most students, the most important task ahead is college applications. But, many families don’t think about how soon they need to begin that prep work, especially as the school year is ending. There’s so many deadlines (applications, essays, financial aid, and so on) to keep track of and it’s important for rising seniors to prepare for financial aid deadlines as early as possible.
The FAFSA deadline has been moved to December for 2023 (it will return to October after that). While it seems like December is far away, there’s still so much to do online to begin the financial aid process. Rising seniors (and their families) need to complete the FAFSA and/or the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE shortly after the applications come online. It’s important that your student understands the deadlines for all of the prospective schools they’re interested in. This includes financial aid deadlines. Knowing their schedule will give you a good idea of the timeframe you need to shoot for, especially if your student is interested in an early decision or early action application.
Because the launch has been pushed to December this year, the turnaround time is even shorter for financial aid. FAFSA is the gateway to most forms of federal, state and some institutional financial aid. These can all be a great help in paying for college. However, they have limited amounts of money available. Awards are only granted until the funds run out. The later you apply, the less money you’ll have access to.
Here are things you can do to prepare your rising senior for college financial aid deadlines:
Know your costs
Have an honest discussion with your student about what it costs the family to support someone in college. You still have to run your household while supporting them. There are many costs involved in this such as tuition, room and board, travel, and living expenses that the family does not have to shoulder now. Be aware of what is involved, and know what you can afford. While this isn’t the most “fun” conversation, it’s very important to everyone involved.
Estimate your financial aid
There are some good calculators available which can give you an estimate of the college financial aid you might be able to receive. These figures are not set in stone until each individual college makes an official financial aid offer. But, they still provide a good idea of what you might expect. If the figures don’t fit your finances now, you’ve got some work to do over the summer. You may need to consider other colleges, research student loans or look for scholarships that can help bridge the gap.
Find out what you need to know about the FAFSA now. Get your documentation in order so that you don’t get behind. FAFSA does use an IRS data retrieval tool, but it’s still a good idea to have everything together. This is especially true if anything major has changed in the last year that will impact your finances, like divorce, job loss, or retirement.
Senior year is such an exciting time for you and your rising senior. Taking care of these deadlines will help everyone enjoy the celebrations that much more!
Who We Are
CFAA helps with 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.