November Financial Aid Checklist for Seniors

This is the third installment from college advisor Alice Kleeman in our monthly series for seniors on what you should be doing with regard to financial aid. 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!


*             All students applying for financial aid -- whether you are considering attending two-year or four-year colleges—will complete a FAFSA. Familiarize yourself with the form. BUT DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR FAFSA BEFORE JANUARY 1—it will not be processed for the correct school year!

*             Work with your parents to collect the documents you will need to complete the FAFSA—including tax returns for the most recent year, Social Security numbers, driver's license information, student and parent W-2 forms and other records of money earned, current bank statements, etc. The FAFSA web site lists the documents you will need here.

*             Have you checked to make sure whether or not the schools on your list also require the CSS PROFILE (College Scholarship Service Profile) that is available from the College Board? Many private colleges and universities require this additional financial aid form in addition to the FAFSA in order for you to be considered for receiving institutional financial aid at the listed schools. A list of the schools and scholarship programs that require the CSS PROFILE can be found here. The CSS PROFILE should be completed by the earliest school or program filing date. Check the deadlines at each college to which you are applying.

*             Check with your high school college counselor to make sure you understand any special requirements for applying for aid at public universities in your state and have completed all forms necessary to qualify for state financial aid.

*             If the colleges you are applying to have their own institutional financial aid forms, be sure you have obtained them. Pay attention to their deadlines— they may differ from those for the FAFSA or CSS PROFILE. 

*               Deadlines matter! Track them carefully. You can use the Financial Aid Deadline Organizer available here. Or your high school may have an online system, such as Naviance, for tracking progress and deadlines. Check with your high school guidance or college counselor.

*             Continue researching scholarships. Here are some resources:

College Board Scholarship Search


FinAid’s Major-Specific Resource



Peterson's Database


The Web-based Naviance system features a scholarship search service powered by Sallie Mae. Check with your counselor to see if your school offers this feature of Naviance.

* Continue asking questions! Check in with your high school college counselor about any concerns about the FAFSA, CSS PROFILE, deadlines or financial aid in general.


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