Second semester countdown for seniors




For seniors, the second semester of high school is extremely hectic. Be sure to stay organized so you don’t miss important deadlines. Here is a list of essentials you must complete as you end your high school career and begin college.

File the FAFSA. Be sure to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after Jan. 1 if you will be attending college in the fall. This application must be completed to apply for state, federal, and institutional financial aid. You can file the FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov. If you file online, make sure you and one of your parents have a FAFSA ID (used to electronically sign the FAFSA).

Review your SAR. A few days or weeks after you submit the FAFSA (depending on if you submitted the electronic or paper FAFSA), you will be able to access your Student Aid Report (SAR) online or receive it either by email or regular mail. This report summarizes the information you provided on the FAFSA and indicates your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You should review your SAR carefully to ensure there are no mistakes. If you need to make corrections, you can do so electronically at www.fafsa.ed.gov,  or you can make corrections on the paper form and send it to the address provided.

Keep your grades up. Colleges have the right to rescind offers of admission if your final semester’s grades don’t reflect the caliber of work that got you admitted in the first place. Avoid senioritis and continue to work hard throughout the semester.

Accept award package. In March or April, you should begin receiving award notifications from the schools to which you have applied. Once you receive these notifications be sure to compare the financial aid packages offered by each school and choose the best option for your academic and personal goals. Pay close attention to deadlines for accepting the award package. Deadlines are usually within two weeks after receiving the award notification. If you miss a deadline, you may risk losing a scholarship, grant, or loan assistance.

Decline admission to other colleges. Many institutions include instructions in their offer package regarding how to inform them of your decision to attend another university. You may be asked to return a response form via mail or update your status through an online student information system.

Submit housing application and deposit. Once you know which college you want to attend, you can submit a housing application and deposit if you will be living on campus. You need to do this as soon as possible because most rooms are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Send final copy of transcript. As the semester draws to an end, request that your high school send a final copy of your transcript to your chosen school. Make sure senior year grades are included on the transcript.

Register for orientation. Freshman orientation is designed to calm your nerves, answer your questions, and get you prepared for the many exciting challenges that await you at college. Call your school to find out how you can register for their freshman orientation and to see if there is an attendance fee. You may be able to register on the school’s website. Summer orientation usually takes place in June/July, so be sure to register early.

Sign MPN. If you are taking out a Stafford Loan, you should receive a Master Promissory Note (MPN) from your school. A promissory note is your promise to repay the loan under the terms detailed within it. The MPN is a multiple year/multiple loan promissory note. This means that instead of having to complete and sign a separate promissory note each time you borrow under the Stafford Loan Program, the Master Promissory Note allows you to complete only one “master” promissory note over the duration of your education unless the length of your education exceeds 10 years or you change schools. Be sure to note the terms and conditions of the MPN before you sign it. They include the amount you are borrowing, the interest rate and fees associated with the loan, the length of the repayment period, and the conditions under which late fees and collection costs may be assessed. If you have questions about any of these terms, contact your school before signing the document. Your school will either give you a copy of the MPN or offer you the option of completing the MPN at www.studentloans.gov.

As you enjoy your last semester of high school ever (yay!), be sure to take the time to complete these very important tasks. Let the countdown begin, seniors!

Reprinted with permission from eCampusTours.com – a college planning website featuring 360-degree virtual tours of over 1300 campuses nationwide. Sponsored by Edsouth Services. Copyright 2014-15. All rights reserved.

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