High school seniors, happy January! For many seniors, January means you are done with college applications and are now awaiting decisions. Some seniors may already know where they are going to college next year. If this is you, congratulations! However, regardless of where you are in the process, there is more work to be done.

bored-16811_640Seventh semester (a.k.a. first semester senior year) counts. Don’t succumb to senioritis. Contrary to what you may have heard, senior year grades do matter, especially the first semester senior year. Whether you have been accepted early decision or early action or still waiting on acceptances, grades still matter. This is especially important for those who are waiting on regular decision or for those who have been deferred early admission. Solid senior year grades show a strong work ethic and college readiness. Furthermore, many college acceptance letters remind students that their offer of admittance is contingent upon them continuing the same quality of work throughout their senior year. Finish senior year first semester strong and study for those mid-term exams this month!

keep-calm-and-file-your-fafsa-10File the FAFSA. Beginning January 1 the FAFSA, Free Application For Financial Student Assistance, became available online. The FAFSA is the government document that is used to determine a student’s eligibility for grants, loans and work-study. Collect your up-to-date financial information and log onto the official FAFSA site www.fafsa.ed.gov. Pay close attention to all aspects of the application and be deliberate when listing your colleges. Experts disagree on how to list your colleges on the form, since colleges are said to interpret this list for their own use http://www.examiner.com/article/experts-disagree-about-how-students-should-strategize-their-fafsa-college-list. Be mindful of state deadlines

FileYourCSSProfileFile the CSS Profile. Many private schools and some state schools require the CSS profile which is available through the College Board, https://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile. The CSS Profile requires more detailed financial information than the FAFSA. And unlike the FAFSA, the CSS Profile is not free.

Apply NowFinish last minute applications. Don’t panic if you procrastinated and missed college deadlines or if you decided last minute to add a few colleges to expand your options. There are hundreds of colleges and universities that are still accepting college applications http://time.com/money/3652370/best-colleges-late-application-deadline/.

ScholarshipsSearch and apply for scholarships. Your college essays are complete and you have submitted your applications. Congratulations! Now it’s time to switch gears and look for outside scholarship opportunities. Scholarships are “free money” and do not need to be paid back. They are available to students who have excelled in the classroom, have a special talent, significantly contributed to the community, etc. There are many private, local, non-profit and national scholarships available. These scholarship applications require essays. Don’t panic! Many times you can use essays you used for college applications for scholarship applications too.

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No Time for Senioritis…There’s Still Work to Do!
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