It’s the home stretch of your senior year, and a lot will happen over the next few months. You’ll find out which college(s) you’ve been accepted to and make a final decision about where you’re going next year. You’ll also be lining up all the various forms of financing you’ll need to pay for college.
If you’re feeling unsure about what you should be doing to get ready to pay for college, now is the time to start taking steps to get things clear. Here are three things you should be doing, if you haven’t already:
- Complete the FAFSA. The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and you should complete this as soon as possible, if you haven’t already done so. Find it at fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA is your first step to securing financial aid for college—including federal student loans, and most state and institutional aid.
- Search for scholarships. Because scholarship money typically does not have to be repaid, it’s important to secure as much of it as possible. If you haven’t already done so, begin a scholarship search right away. You can use online search engines, such as Tuition Funding Sources (tuitionfundingsources.com) and you can also meet with your school counselor to discuss other scholarship opportunities available. Micro-scholarships are another option to consider. Check out raise.me to learn more about how you can earn scholarship money for your high school achievements.
- Understand your family finances. Now is the time to have some important discussions with your parents about money and their expectations while you’re in college. Talk with your parents about whether they’ll be paying for any portion of your college education, taking care of any additional expenses, or providing spending money while you’re in school.
If you’re feeling uncertain about how to get started with any of these steps, talk with your school counselor. Bring a list of all your college-financing questions, big and small. Getting a clear understanding of how you’ll pay for college can a take a lot of the stress out of college planning — and will help ensure a smoother transition for you next fall.