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College Planning Checklist

Feel free to use this tip sheet / checklist as you tackle your own ""do-it-yourself"" organizing projects. If you would like to REPRINT or DISTRIBUTE this information, please click here for reprinting instructions.


  • location (near home, long-distance)
  • cost (both in-state and out-of state, classes, fees, housing)
  • available majors and areas of specialization
  • distinctions and awards
  • size and makeup of student body
  • entrance requirements
  • academic record of incoming freshmen and graduates
  • extra-curricular and campus activities
  • financial aid options and scholarships


  • initially, don't rule schools out because of cost
  • more expensive schools often give more financial aid
  • research school-based scholarships and grants
  • research options based on gender, major, ethnicity, etc.
  • research scholarships, grants, and work study
  • begin applying for scholarships as you send in admissions
  • the FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid) determines eligibility
  • file the FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan 1 of your senior year
  • 4-6 weeks after submitting, you will receive Student Aid Report
  • SAR summarizes your info and Expected Family Contribution
  • if you are asked for, you will need to submit W-2's and 1099's
  • apply for student loans if still need assistance
  • may receive your first bill for tuition before school starts
  • ask about payment plans for first payment, rather than lump sum
  • you will need to reapply for financial aid each year


  • talk to your guidance counselor about entrance requirements
  • review your current studies and plan for appropriate senior classes
  • begin thinking about what majors and careers interest you
  • decide on a list of schools that meet your personal criteria
  • request detailed information and applications for each school
  • set up a "college information" file for each school
  • include checklists for each school's application requirements
  • make copies of applications and file before submitting
  • keep copies of all correspondence in college file
  • schedule appointments for open houses and visits with college reps
  • pick your first date to take the SAT / ACT (April, May, or June)
  • plan appointments to visit your top two or three college campuses
  • start working out a realistic college budget
  • examine your funding sources and start researching financial aid


  • examine your funding sources and start researching financial aid
  • begin working on your essay
  • put together your personal and academic resume
  • request transcripts from guidance office
  • begin applying the day after Labor Day
  • develop a time table of admissions deadlines
  • obtain scholarship and financial aid information (including FAFSA)
  • send out financial aid applications right after first of year
  • mail off FAFSA form by March 1
  • schedule college and scholarship interviews as required
  • add interview dates to your time table
  • make your final selection and accept college and financial aid offer
  • inform all colleges of your decision
  • talk to representative of chosen college about housing and classes


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