Monthly Financial Aid Checklist for Seniors

Paying for college is a concern for most families. This post marks the first of a monthly series for seniors on what you should be doing with regard to financial aid, written by college advisor Alice Kleeman. Remember, while in most families it is up to the parents to provide the bulk of the money for college costs to the extent of their ability to pay, it is the student who applies for student aid. Read, save and use these monthly reminders!

  • Check the web sites of all colleges that interest you for information about financial aid and deadlines. Learn which forms might be required in addition to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at each college. Requirements at each college may be different.
  • Many private colleges require an additional financial aid form, the CSS Profile. Obtain information about which colleges require the CSS Profile here.
  • The FAFSA site offers the FAFSA4caster, a tool your family can use to gain an idea of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the figure the FAFSA provides to colleges to show how much your family may be expected to contribute toward your education in your first year of college. Some colleges will ask you for more and some less, but this is a starting point, and is also used to determine federal aid eligibility.
  • Obtain a FAFSA PIN (Personal Identification Number) for yourself and for one of your parents at Later, when you file the FAFSA electronically, you will use the PIN to create an electronic signature. While you may obtain a PIN now, you will not file the FAFSA until after January 1.
  • Financial aid calculators can provide an early understanding of what your aid award may look like and what you may be asked to pay at individual colleges. Each college's website will have a "net-price calculator" or "net-cost calculator" to help your family determine how much that college would cost for YOU. Use these tools, but remember your actual financial aid offer may differ from the info on the calculator, based on a variety of factors. Again: this is a start.
  • Begin researching scholarships. Try a free FastWeb scholarship search on the Internet, check out the scholarship resources available at your high school and explore these additional resources for scholarships on the Resources page here.


Alice Kleeman has served as the college advisor for 18 years in the College and Career Center of Menlo- Atherton High School, a public high school of 2,000 students in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also teaches each summer on the faculty of the College Board’s Summer Admission Institute for new admission officers.



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