College Prep Timeline

September CalendarAs college freshman embark on their journey, for high school juniors and seniors, it’s crunch time to begin mapping out their plans for college, both financial and otherwise.  This means approaching teachers for crucial recommendations, picking and choosing between colleges to create a top 5 to 10 list, and gathering the needed materials for applications as well as scholarships.

If you and your student feel overwhelmed, don’t panic!  Take each priority one step at a time.  Here we provide a general timeline between now and the Christmas season:

September Scholarships

What better way to kick off your college savings plan than applying for scholarships?  Unlike a loan, you’re simply handed the award money with no obligation to pay back in the future.  On top of that, tons of resources exist to aid your scholarship search.

Some zero in on specific types of students (high GPA, gender, low-income, and so forth), but others are intentionally non-descript.  Chances are your student won’t have to look far for qualifying scholarships.

October Outreach

As your student builds and re-establishes relationships with professors, remind them to stress their desire for recommendation letters.  Some colleges even require at least two, so better to start asking around ASAP!  Educational references rank highest on the hierarchy, so try not to rely too heavily on personal recommendations.

November Notations

All the college-related deadlines can make your head spin.  Mark all imperative, college-related deadlines on a calendar, preferably a sizable one visible to you and your student on a daily basis, like a refrigerator.  That way, every time they grab a snack, they’ll automatically be reminded of these dates.  Write them in bold letters, preferably a Sharpie, and they won’t easily stray from your student’s eyes!

Mark This Date: Most Early Decision applications are due by either Nov. 1st or 15th.

December Documentation

With the 2015 FAFSA opening soon (Jan. 1st), if you haven’t gotten ahead of the game already, remember that preparation is key to effortlessly blow through the FAFSA.  Last year we listed the 5 W’s to successfully prepping for the FAFSA, and noted the specific documents you’ll need:

✓  Tax Forms (Federal Income)

✓  Assets (Business Investments & Bank Statements)

✓  Personal (SSN & Driver’s License)

✓  Income Proof (Untaxed & Taxable Income)

We know the college prep process may seem insurmountable, but with step-by-step (and month-by-month) planning, you’ll master the process and pave the path of least resistance for you and your family.

Westface College Planning helps navigate the financial aid process from start to finish.  To learn how we can minimize college cost, call us at 650-587-1559 or sign up for one of our Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Workshops or Webinars.

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