College Money Calendar

*A timeline to secure the funds you need whether undergraduate, graduate or Nontraditional

Here’s a handy schedule that you can use to keep your financial aid planning on track. Consider writing the action items on the actual pages of your calendar.

Note: This calendar is designed for both undergraduate and graduate students attending U.S. colleges and universities. If you plan to attend graduate or professional school the deadlines for financial aid when you are in your college undergraduate senior year are identical to those for a high school senior in the 12th year. This financial aid calendar applies to all students, whether full time or part time, on-campus or distance learning.

SOPHOMORE YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL

  • Continuing: Start a college scholarship resource file. Save private scholarship sources sponsored by organizations, service groups, corporations, government agencies, and individuals.
  • Explore career options through high school career studies and self discovery. (Many scholarships are available from career-related professional organizations.)
  • Join appropriate clubs or participate in acitivies associated with scholarships, such as Scouts, service clubs and jobs.

* Parents shift financial assets if restructuring is to to your advantage. January 1 in the junior year marks the start of the year that influences aid for college freshmen.

JUNIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL

  • Register with your school counselor to take the PSAT, National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test and the ACT.
  • Apply for advanced placement to be eligible to take college courses in high school.
  • Investigate banks, credit unions, and other institutions that make educational loans; open an account if that’s a requirement for being able to borrow.

October: Take the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT).

November:

  • Attend financial aid workshops to get a head start on early financial aid planning and to understand the financial aid process.
  • Attend college fairs.
  • Gather information about colleges and financial aid resources.
  • Review PSAT results.

February:

  • Register for May or June SATII for schools that require it.
  • Make plans to visit colleges to see the campus “in action.”

March:

  • Visit the high school guidance and career center to discuss colleges

April:

  • Do a free computer scholarship search using Internet services

May:

  • Contact college admission offices where you want to enroll, asking for information on entrance and scholarships. Ask for college’s admission video if one if available.
  • Use postal mail or check internet for college web sites to see if your target schools offer an electronic admission option.
  • Contact your state’s scholarship administration to determine state financial aid opportunities and application procedures.

Summer:

  • If you haven’t already done so, visit colleges of interest. Request applications from private scholarship sponsors.
  • Prepare for early decision applications.
  • Do an estimated EFC on the Internet (www.collegeboard.com)

Senior Year of High School

October:

  • Continue to pursue scholarship resources, including merit-based funds.
  • Create a check off sheet of admissions and financial aid forms and deadlines.
  • Send letters to scholarship providers requesting scholarship applications.
  • Send college applications.
  • Prepare College Scholarship Services’s PROFILE for those colleges that require this document to award institutional funding.
  • Attend college fairs to collect admission and financial aid information.

November:

  • Register for a Personal Identification Number (PIN), for student and parent which will be required to submit the FAFSA documentation electronically, at www.pin.ed.gov
  • If you missed the free spring financial aid workshops, attend free workshops (minimum of two) offered by your high school or organizational sponsors to review the correct method of completing the FAFSA. Although you have already mailed the CSS Profile, you can find out if you committed any gross errors you need to quickly correct.

(You’re fortunate if you school’s workshop is scheduled earlier, which is ideal, but most schools can’t get to them until November.)

  • Complete institutional aid applications if required by the college.

Parents: Prepare your income tax information to complete taxes early; this helps when completing the FAFSA.

December:

  • Fill out the FAFSA form but hold to enter electronically until January 1 through February 15. This time period is suggested to assure that deadlines are met. Actually, the FAFSA can be submitted as late as June 30, of the actual academic year. Of course, the later the FAFSA is submitted, the fewer funds available.

January:

  • Submit the electronic FAFSA or the electronic renewal FAFSA form after January 1. They can not be submitted before this date. Using estimated. income for this submission is acceptable. Update later with actual 2010 tax information. You may also be required to complete an institutions supplemental form(s).

(Note: the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be on your printout.

February:

  • Submit any additional forms required to the college financial aid office. If a dependent, you and your family each complete U.S. Federal Tax Form 1040 with w-2’s and submit.
  • Update the FAFSA from the information on the Form 1040. Make additional corrections, such as new colleges of interest that should receive the FAFSA results.
  • If requested, complete the Verification Worksheet (either via paper or electronic) and send copies of your and your family’s 1040 with w-2(s) attached to each targeted college’s financial aid office.
  • Double-check that all private scholarship applications are completed and sent; normally college applications and private scholarships have deadlines of March 1.

March:

  • This is the time to check with each college financial aid office to be sure they have received all required documents to qualify for aid.

April:

  • Continue to receive admission acceptance letters. Accept all admission offers until the corresponding financial aid award letters are finalized to compare offers.
  • Receive college financial aid notification (award letters). Accept all awards from all schools; return award letters promptly. Prepare financial aid appeal letters as required. Remember, you are still negotiating and deciding, although you accept everything at this point.

May:

  • The first of May is the date required to submit a deposit. Deposits usually are nonrefundable and hold your admission place at the college of colleges of choice.
  • You may have to pay a deposit at several schools to hold your admission status until you have your financial aid plan intact.
  • Deposits at state schools typically are less than $100; but, rise to hundreds of dollars at private schools. This is a tough break, but may be a price you pay for the optimal financial aid package. If your award letter hasn’t arrived, call the school and ask if the deadline for paying your deposit can be extended.

June:

  • Receive outside scholarship notification.
  • Compare all award letters and institute final negotiationswith the college(s) of choice.
  • Finalize college selection. Notify each non-selected college admission office that you have made another choice and will not be enrolling in the fall.
  • Report to each non selected college financial aid office that you are relinquishing your earlier aid acceptance because you will not be enrolling in the fall.
  • Obtain and complete your family’s section of the Federal Stafford/Direct Loan and Federal PLUS loan forms. This action is normally accomplished electronically with a lender of choice and signed with your PIN as an “e-signature”.
  • Complete paperwork for on-campus housing at the selected college.

June to August:

  • Work during the summer and save as much as $4,500 for college expenses. (Your financial aid award is already completed so this money will not count against your funding for the year. Students are allowed to earn up to $4,500 per year before their earnings are considered a contribution toward the expected family contribution.)
  • Complete a computerized scholarship search for the next academic year. New scholarship sponsors are available for each year that you advance in college.
  • If you plan to work while in school, try to line up a job a few weeks before school starts. Many of the best jobs are taken before students hit the campus. You may even want to make a special trip to the campus to explore job options, starting at the college itself to see what it offers.