Items in Bold are Financial Aid related

September – October

  • Find out about the SAT or ACT college assessment tests.
  • Find out about college prep courses for high school seniors.
  • Consider taking the PSAT/NMSQT- ask your counselor or College Advisor.

March – May

  • Talk about your after-high school plans with your family and with your guidance counselor or College Advisor.
  • Check your high school guidance office for announcements of college representatives visiting your school.
  • Register for SAT I/II or ACT.
  • Review the academic course selection for your high school senior year. Make sure you are going to meet admission requirements for your first-choice colleges.
  • Start a college application file.
  • Find out about college-prep summer programs.
  • Watch “Regents Review Live” on your local PBS or cable channel, and visit regentsreviewlive.
  • Go to a college fair near you.


  • Find out about financial aid available through church groups, labor unions, and other organizations.
  • Start to research scholarships online. Find out if your parents’ employers offer scholarships or tuition reimbursements.
  • Begin work on your college essays.
  • Take SAT I/II or ACT.
  • Write a resume to help you later on in the college application process.
  • Request college catalogs and applications for admission. You can do this on-line at college Web sites.
  • Prepare a list of colleges to visit during the summer and schedule appointments.
  • Start getting letters of recommendation from your teachers.

July – August

  • Get a Social Security number, if you don’t have one.
  • Earn and save money for college.
  • Go on college visits.


  • Meet with your counselor to talk about college applications and financial aid.
  • If you are not sure if your family will qualify for financial aid you can use a financial calculator to help determine your eligibility for both federal and state financial aid programs.
  • Register for SAT I/II or ACT; your counselor will advise which one you should take.
  • Be sure your courses meet the requirements for high school graduation.
  • Get letters of recommendation from teachers, employers, and others who know you well.
  • Review deadlines for specific college admission applications.


  • Sign and submit the FAFSA as soon as possible, but after October 1. Applying early improves the chances of receiving aid from as many sources as possible.
  • File your TAP Application online at the end of the FAFSA.
  • Ask your counselor for information on state and local scholarships. Many of these programs require the FAFSA. Make sure these forms are submitted to all scholarship programs that require them.
  • Male students who will be 18 at the time they complete the FAFSA are required to register with Selective Service to be eligible for federal and state aid. Students can register for Selective Service at the post office or through the FAFSA form. Call Selective Service toll-free at 1-888-655-1825 for more information.
  • Apply for any scholarships/awards from local groups/organizations.
  • Make a final check and review of your school records, with your counselor or College Advisor.
  • Attend college nights or conferences.
  • Register for SAT I/II or ACT if you have not yet done so.
  • Work on applications; request transcripts be sent to the colleges to which you are applying.
  • Schedule a planning conference with your College Advisor/guidance counselor.
  • Attend the college fair in your area!


  • Attend financial aid workshops and seminars.
  • Consult your College Advisor/guidance counselor and college catalogs or web sites for any required achievement tests other than SAT or ACT.
  • Complete and submit your admissions applications and essays, if required.
  • Check bulletin boards for financial aid workshops, scholarship announcements and visits by college representatives.


  • Apply for scholarships in time to meet application deadlines.
  • Get Federal Student Aid Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) at for you and your parents (for parent loans).
  • Get student financial aid worksheet if applying online from the guidance office and if not applying on-line get the a student financial aid form.
  • If you are planning to submit FAFSA online, you should visit FAFSA on the Web at and familiarize yourself with the website’s content and features.
  • Start gathering identity and financial documents necessary to complete FAFSA. Visit FAFSA on the Web for a list of required documents.
  • Check college aid application due dates.
  • Talk to alumni and college friends during the holidays. Ask them about their college experiences.


  • Attend financial aid application workshops.
  • Check bulletin board for scholarships and financial aid information.
  • Are all your college applications submitted? Any deadlines approaching?
  • Keep track of all applications in your college folder.


  • The Student Aid Report (SAR) should be emailed to you in two to four days after the FAFSA is submitted. If you do not get an email from the U.S. Department of Education, call 1-800-4-FED-AID (800-433-3242). If there are any errors make corrections online at
  • Colleges may ask for your mid-year high school grade report.
  • Are you keeping all correspondence from the colleges and government aid offices in your college folder?


  • Your FAFSA may be chosen for a routine process known as “verification,” in which the information reported on the FAFSA is checked against your tax transcript. An asterisk next to the EFC figure on your SAR means your application has been selected for verification. If selected for verification, be sure to submit all requested documentation to the financial aid office in a timely fashion.
  • File your TAP Application at if you did not fill out the TAP application.
  • Check your financial aid status at your college or university. Check Your TAP Award or Loan Account Status.
  • Colleges begin to send acceptance notices and financial aid award letters.
  • Register for Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, if needed.
  • Start looking for a summer job.


  • Colleges start sending out financial aid packages to accepted students. If you have any questions, review your financial aid package with the college financial aid office.
  • Compare your aid awards to see a side-by-side comparison of aid awards. Do not just look at the total amount of aid, but conduct a bottom-line analysis of the net out-of-pocket cost of attending each school. Different schools for example, may have different costs for room and board.


  • If it will be difficult for your family to pay the Expected Family Contribution for the semester, it’s time to start pursuing alternatives such as parent loans or private loans to close the financial aid gap.
  • If you have to borrow money from the Federal Direct Student Loan Program, you will have to sign a promissory note, which guarantees you will repay the loan.
  • Take AP Exams. Make sure scores will be sent to your final-choice college.
  • Send thank you notes to all those who assisted you, including your College Advisor/guidance counselor, secretaries and teachers.

June – August (summer before college)

  • If all forms have been completed correctly and all deadlines have been met, financial aid funds should be available to pay your bill once you have registered.
  • The fall semester bill will arrive over the summer. Be sure to return it with proper payment as quickly as possible. Ask the school about interest-free or low cost tuition payment plans that let you pay your tuition in monthly installments, instead of a lump sum up front.
  • Use your summer job to help finance your education.
  • Set up a bank account near campus and talk to your parents about how to use credit cards responsibly.
  • Get ready for your first year of college! Start of School
  • If you applied for education loans, the financial aid office will provide you with information about the disbursement of the loan proceeds.
  • You may be required to visit the financial aid office to complete entrance counseling and cosign the disbursement check.

Subsequent Years

  • You will need to reapply for financial aid each year. Even if you did not qualify this year, you should reapply next year, since financial circumstances can change. The number of family members in college, for example, can have a big impact on your eligibility for financial aid.
  • if you submitted a FAFSA during the previous year, you may be able to complete the shorter renewal FAFSA form instead. 
  • Continue to apply for scholarships as your qualifications change and as new scholarships get added to the on-line databases.