Faqs from High School Seniors Financial Aid?

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FAQs from High School Seniors
Financial Aid

  1. Financial Aid? In January, everyone should apply for federal aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if their post-secondary plan includes any kind of further education or training.

  2. Financial aid – private school versus public school? Private colleges usually have more resources for financial aid beyond what the federal government allocates. Private colleges also may require that you complete an additional application called the CSS Profile which you can access through the College Board website.

  3. When should I start applying for financial aid? Financial aid will not be awarded until you have been accepted.

  4. Would the ROTC be worth it? Financially? Personally? Career-wise? Only you can answer that question, but keep in mind, there is no “free” money.

  5. How would you pay for both an apartment & school? Financial aid includes living expenses as well as tuition and fees.

  6. Scholarships? Do your parents belong to any civic organizations? Do the places they work sponsor any scholarships? Do you have a particular talent or interest which might be supported by a scholarship? Check senior bulletin monthly, search the internet. Every scholarship has a specific deadline and criteria. At the least, make sure you apply for local scholarships. Do not miss the deadlines!

  7. Will I be able to afford it? Remember why you are going to college. If you believe that further education is an investment and you chose wisely and realistically, then yes. Find out all you can about loans and how they work. It will be up to you to repay them.

  8. Is it worth being in debt to go to an out of state or otherwise expensive college? How much debt are you comfortable with is really the question you need to ask yourself. Most expensive private colleges offer more institutional aid then public colleges can. Also, once you get out of New England, you will find that the cost of attending college tends to be less. Bottom line is: it is worth accruing SOME debt as an investment in your future, just be careful HOW MUCH debt you take on. What you plan to do with your degree needs to be part of the consideration. What kind of salary can you expect to be using to pay off your loans?

  9. How much money will I need? It all depends on the bottom line. Once you have received your financial aid packages from the schools that have accepted you, you need to do a comparison to really know how much money you’ll need. Keep in mind that even if all of the costs are covered, but with loans versus scholarships and grants, you could owe a lot of money by the time you are finished.

  10. What if I know I won’t get any financial aid, but still need money? Never assume you won’t get any financial aid. Everyone should complete the FAFSA even if they think they won’t qualify for any financial aid. Circumstances can change and you should always be prepared, plus there many local scholarships for average students or students with a particular talent or plan on attending Community College but you have to have completed the FAFSA to apply.

Filling out Applications

  1. When should I start applying? ASAP. You should try to have most of your applications done before the holiday break. Many colleges accept applications until a program is full. Check the college websites for specific admissions criteria and deadlines.

  2. How much do essays influence the admission process? Essays give insight into the person behind the application and transcript. It is your chance to introduce yourself to the school. Be sure to have a teacher or counselor read a draft of your essay, and remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.

  3. Does it cost money to apply every time? Usually. Some colleges waive the fee if you visit campus or apply on line or use the Common App.

  4. Is it more beneficial to do the Common App on line? YES!

  5. How many school should I apply to? If you have done your homework, 4-5 will be fine: a reach, a couple of good bets and a safety school.

  6. How do I get started? See your counselor or refer to “Application Process” steps on our website.

  7. What are college essays about? There can be a variety of topics, but regardless of the topic, the essay should be all about you. There are some essay writing hints on our website and we can give you a list of some sample questions.

  8. What will I need in my Art Portfolio? Each college will outline their specific requirements. Our art teachers are well equipped to help you with that.

  9. How do I apply? Visit the college website for instructions. Use the Common Application if allowed and it will guide you through the process. Be sure to use the checklist to be sure you have completed everything before sending.

  10. Is my essay topic okay? Check with your English teacher and/or school counselor. Some topics can be over done, like “Sports as a Metaphor for Life”

  11. What grades do I need to actually get into a decent college? Schools will tell you what grades the biggest percentage of their current student body got. If your grades are within that range then you have a great chance of getting in, but if your grades are lower, your chances go down unless there is something else you have to offer the school.

  12. Would a gap year be a good idea? A gap year can be a great idea for students who are very undecided about what to do next or who feel burned out with school, but be sure you make a plan for that year that gives you the chance to grow and learn in some other way. Moving to a different part of the country, working for Americorps, traveling, or the WWOOF program are just some of the options.

  13. When should the Common App be sent in? Submit the Common App by the earliest deadline on your list of schools. They will all be sent at the same time. You may add to the list later as long as the deadline has not passed.

  14. If my college does not require an essay, should I still send one? No, because the admissions office is not likely to read it. Admissions offices have different procedures and receive different amounts of applications. It does not help your chances of getting in to send more than what is required unless you’ve been wait-listed. If you have been wait-listed sending additional information may help moving you off that list to the accepted students list.

  15. What Grants are available? Grants are part of the financial package that a school will offer you and are based on the need reported on your FAFSA.

  16. What is the cost of studying abroad? Usually the tuition cost of studying abroad is the same as if you were studying at your school in the United States. The difference may be the cost of room and board and the cost of your roundtrip flight.

  17. Do I get to read the recommendations before they are sent? Generally speaking , no. (But don’t worry. Usually people won’t agree to write one unless it will be positive.)


  1. How much do SATs and ACTs matter? Less than your academic history. SATs provide a leveling tool for the admissions staff to compare you with other students. They matter more at more competitive colleges who might also require SAT II tests, also known as subject tests.

  2. Should I take the ACT? When and how do I take them? The ACT is more like a midterm or a final exam. Some people do better with that type of test. Colleges accept both the SAT and ACT scores.

  3. Why are SATs so important? See #11.

  4. How do I sign up to re-take SATs? Go to the College Board website, www.collegeboard.org to sign up on your own. You’ll need a credit card to pay for it!


  1. Am I ready to meet NCAA requirements? If you are planning to compete at a Division I or II school you must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center who will certify your credentials. Go to www.eligibilitycenter.org for more information.

  2. What do I do if I do not get accepted to my dream school or just can not afford it? It is important to have one or more back up plans that might include beginning at a Community College and completing your core courses to save money or to build skills and demonstrate your ability to succeed at the college level. After two years you can transfer. Other schools will generally accept your transfer credits as long as the course is one they offer and you have received at least a C in the class.

  3. Can I still get recommendations sent if I take a gap year? If you go through the application process while you are still in high school and then ask the school that has accepted you to defer for a year or even two, then you will not need to re-apply. If you wait until after your gap year to complete applications you may or may not get or want recommendations from your teachers or school counselor. It may be more important to get a recommendation from someone you’ve worked with during that year.

  4. Why does this school push people to go to college? We know that a high school education is usually not enough to be as successful as you might want to be. So, we encourage students to go to college in order to keep as many opportunities open as possible.

  5. What is the best way to impress a school if you haven’t done so well? Nothing replaces a strong transcript, however, if there is a reason why it is not as strong as it could be, addressing it in your essay could help you. Moving and adjusting to a new school, parents divorcing, a death in your immediate family, or a long term illness are all legitimate reasons why you might have had a “bad’ year. If you have not worked up to your potential for most of high school, going to a community College for at least 1 year is a good way to demonstrate to a college that you are serious about doing well and that you can do well at the college level.

  6. How difficult is it to transfer to a different college? As long as you’ve kept your grades up, and the school you want to go to has comparable courses, it shouldn’t be difficult. The college’s Student Services office can help you with that.

  7. Where is the unemployment rate lowest in the U.S.? That figure changes over time, so go to www.bls.gov/ooh for the most up to date information.

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