College Planning for 2016



With the Christmas season upon us and students out of school, it’s a good time to look at what lies ahead and make some plans to hit the ground running in January 2016.

First things first, take a look at scholarships with January deadlines. These should be at the top of your list to begin 2016. Make scholarship searching and applying a priority in 2016. Say you don’t need money for college? Everyone likes free money! The more scholarship money your student earns the less you will have to pay. Save for retirement. Take a cruise. Remodel your home. Wouldn’t you rather keep the money you saved and use it for other family expenses? It’s a no-brainer–every student should apply for scholarships.

For seniors, it’s FAFSA time. Yes. It’s the dreaded FAFSA (much like the dreaded IRS forms). Don’t procrastinate. With the FAFSA, the early bird gets the worm (or in college terms, gets the money). School award aid on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once it’s available on January 1, get that puppy done. Even if you don’t want federal aid, fill it out. Colleges use this form when awarding other types of financial aid like grants and scholarships.

For juniors, it’s SAT/ACT prep time. If you’re taking the test in 2016, you’re going to be staring the new SAT in the face: it’s going to be available in March 2016. Use the next couple of months to prepare for the test. There are free tools on line to help you study and consider hiring a tutor if you think it will help your student focus and prepare.

Don’t wait to register for these tests at the last minute. If you plan to take the tests in January, REGISTER NOW! And it it’s in the spring, register now to avoid late registration fees. For a comprehensive guide on these registration and test dates, click here.

For sophomores and juniors, it’s time to start thinking about college visits. Sophomores should plan preliminary college visits (visit some colleges to get a feel for college life and prepare a list of wants and needs). Juniors will be making visits to show the college they are interested. Sign up for the tour and schedule and interview. Colleges keep tract of these visits and it will give you an edge when your application is received.

With a new year, comes new challenges and college-related tasks. Planning in December can help you hit the ground running in January and move forward in 2016.

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