By Joanne Barnard

February is the lull month between the frenzy of applying for school and financial aid, and the anticipation of award letters and the decision. Take this opportunity to follow up on all you have accomplished, catch up on all that you haven’t, and prepare yourself for what is to come.

If you have already applied for post secondary education, scholarships and completed the FAFSA, follow up with schools to ensure they have transcripts and all

application material. Some schools require your mid-year transcript. You may have requested ACT/SAT scores be sent, make sure they have arrived.

A phone call to make sure they have everything indicates your continued interest, and allows them an opportunity to ask follow-up questions.
Create a check list to track your progress. List your post secondary candidates. Check off things like; applied, accepted, scholarship applications sent, transcripts sent/received, recent ACT/SAT scores sent/received. Check if the school received your letters of recommendation, and that they are on track to receive your FAFSA report.

Also develop a filing system to organize acceptance letters and other documents. Get yourself on solid ground to prepare for the coming months.

Looking To The Future
Even before making that final commitment to a school you may want to bite the bullet and send the non-refundable deposit that accompanies the housing contract. Getting your housing application in early may be worth the risk to ensure a favorable location. Some schools have housing available but it may be off-campus in a remote location.

Financial aid award letters will be arriving soon. Once you are caught up, take some time to research what you might be offered so you can make an informed decision. At you can watch a webinar on comparing award letters. The webinar can be found under “For Parents” on the “Getting Started” dropdown list.

Financial Aid
Scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study comprise financial aid. Scholarships and grants are referred to as gift-aid because they do not need to be paid back. Work-study is a program that provides employment to help cover college expenses. Jobs are usually on campus and administered by the financial aid office.
Loans, another form of aid, are both subsidized and unsubsidized. Loans can be awarded to both the student and the parents. Subsidized loans are based on need and the individual does not have to pay interest while in school.

Unsubsidized loans accumulate interest while in school. If not paid during school, interest can be capitalized into the loan; essentially you will be paying interest on the interest. See more pitfalls in the Student Loan Bullets.

Establishing where you are, following through with your intentions and researching financial aid options will give you a solid foundation for your college decision. Good Luck.

More Information
Download the PDF and read "The Guide to Federal Student Aid" on the Federal Student Aid website at (at the bottom right click on 'Resources' under 'More Info')

Next Life 101: March 2

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