FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHAT YOU NEED TO HAVE:
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
Click HERE for the online application.
While students have spent years working tirelessly to earn good grades and the last few months agonizing over their college applications, once those applications are finally submitted, one might argue that an equally difficult part of the process emerges . . . waiting for those admissions decisions!
Although there is little students can do while playing this waiting game, the University of California has suggested several steps students can and should take once they’ve submitted their applications.
(This advice is taken directly from the University of California’s Admissions website, which you can view here )
“1. Print a copy of your application.
You'll want to keep a record of your application ID and a summary of your application for reference.
2. Order test score reports.
If you're a freshman or sophomore applicant, be sure to have your ACT and SAT scores reported by the testing agency. If you have your official score report sent to one campus, it will be available to all campuses to which you applied.
3. Update your application.
You can log in to your application to review and, if necessary, change your telephone number, e-mail, mailing address or SAT, ACT, TOEFL, or International Exam Scores. You can also apply to additional campuses if they're still open.
If you're a transfer student, about five weeks after the filing period has ended, you are required to update your grades and course records.
If there are changes to your academic record...
Freshmen: If you change schools, add or drop a course, or fail to earn a C or better in a course after you submit your application, you must notify the UC Application Center by email or postal mail. Your correspondence must include your name, UC Application ID number and your signature (if you mail a letter), and will be available to all the campuses to which you applied.
UC Application Center
P.O. Box 1432
Bakersfield, CA 93302
Transfers: If you add or drop a course, fail to earn a C or better in a course or enroll in a new college after you submit your application, log back in and update your information online.
If there are changes to other sections of your application...
Minor changes to your activities, awards, volunteer work, employment or personal statement are unlikely to have an impact on your admission decision. However, if you have significant updates in any of these areas, you may notify the UC Application Center (see contact information above).
4. Await the decision.
Each UC campus will notify you of its admission decision, generally by March 31 if you're a fall freshman applicant or in April if you're a transfer student.
5. Submit transcripts, if admitted.
If you are admitted to UC, you must have final transcripts sent to your campus admissions office."
Taken directly from the University of California Counselors and Advisor Bulletin, which you can view here.
"The application cycle is fully underway and students can submit their applications through Monday, Nov. 30 at 11:59 p.m. PST. There is no advantage or disadvantage to the timing of a submission, as long as students submit their application on time. After the application is submitted, applicants can only make changes to contact information, update self-reported test scores, and complete application fee payments.
1. Transcripts: Official transcripts should not be submitted unless a UC campus directly contacts a student to request it.
2. Test Scores: Official SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests and TOEFL scores need to be sent to only ONE campus - UC will share scores with all campuses to which a student applies. IELTS scores, however, must be sent to each UC campus.
3. Test Dates in November/December: Applicants may report planned test dates in November/December 2015 on the application, then log back into their UC application to self-report scores after they are received. Order official scores from the testing agencies by the end of December.
4. AP/IB Scores: Official AP and/or IB exam scores are not required at the time of application review. Students will only submit an official score report if they accept an offer of admission to one UC campus. The official score report must be received by July 15.
5. Letters of recommendation: UC does not require letters of recommendation. However, a campus may specifically request a letter or two directly from some applicants.
6. Fee Waivers: Fees for up to four campuses can be waived for qualified students. UC's fee waiver program is for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and applicants eligible for AB540 benefits. Waivers cannot be combined or used for more than four campuses."
All good colleges are selective!
Actually, no. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s (NACAC) 2014 State of College Admission Report, the average acceptance rate, which is the percentage of applicants who are admitted to any given college is 64.7 percent. That means that colleges admit approximately 2 in 3 students. That statistic does not equate to selectivity. Selective colleges with single-digit percentage acceptance rates are actually quite atypical. Students who are willing to consider colleges in a variety of locations and are not fixated on "name brand" have many options. Loren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives is a great resource for the "best colleges you've never heard of."
Private colleges cost way more than public universities!
Not necessarily! While the sticker price for a private college is significantly more than that of an in-state public college, it’s not quite that black and white. Many students do not pay the published price of tuition for private colleges. The expected family contribution (EFC) is the amount of money the university believes the family should be responsible for contributing to the student's college costs. If a family's EFC is $65,000 or more, that student will not receive any need based aid, since that amount is more than the cost of most colleges. But only a small percentage of students fall into that $65,000 or more EFC range, and there are some generous colleges (most selective colleges excluded) that offer institutional grants or merit aid that can bring down the costs significantly. It is also important to note that many public universities, especially those in CA, are highly impacted making it challenging for students to get some of the prerequisite classes they need. This can possibly equate to an extra year in college, which must be factored in and compared to the cost of four years at a private college where class availability typically isn’t an issue.
I make too much money for my child to get financial aid, so I shouldn’t bother applying for it.
Not true. Everyone applying to college should fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), even the wealthiest of families. Students must fill out the FAFSA to qualify for merit aid and be eligible for federal loans. Families have nothing to lose. It's free to fill out! Also, it is rumored that revealing a healthy financial status can sometimes positively affect admissions decisions. Wealthy families tend to donate more, and colleges know that. Some colleges require the CSS Profile, so students should be sure to fill that out as well if they are hoping for merit aid at a generous college.
Students have to come up with something original for their personal statements!
It is virtually impossible to come up with a topic that hasn’t been tackled before. Admissions counselors read thousands of essays each season. They are not looking to discover a creative topic that hasn’t been done before; They want to uncover each student's distinct qualities that can’t be conveyed in the application. They want to know how each student will contribute to their university in a meaningful way. They want to hear each student's voice and not his or her tutor’s or parent’s.
Volunteering in Africa is sure to impress college admissions representatives.
Not always! If the philanthropy is related to a passion that student has, and they can see that connection in the student's academic and personal profile, then college reps will most likely view it favorably. However, they will find it no more impressive than volunteering for a similar cause in the student's local community. Some students don’t have the means to travel for these enriching experiences, and colleges insist that they give no more weight to a student who can afford a trip overseas than to one who contributes in her/his own neighborhood. Best advice is for students to engage in volunteering that they feel personally connected to and are not doing just to bulk up their resume. They will feel personally rewarded, and it will look great on their college application.
Prospective students and parents often view college rankings as one of the most important factors, if not the most important factor, to look at when applying to college. But what rankings don’t take into consideration is how well that college fits a student’s personality and meets that student’s individual needs.
Kathleen deLanki writes in her article published yesterday in The Washington Post, which you can view here, that research shows “at the college level, it’s all about helping students and faculty to be engaged, hopeful and to thrive. These are actually predictors of success in life and work.” She goes on to say that according to Gallup surveys, “only 13% of college students report having a positive sense of well-being.”
deLanski implies that a student’s well-being is a primary predictor of success; therefore, choosing a college that is well suited for that student and offers a nurturing and supportive environment should be front and center when deciding which schools to apply to and which one to ultimately enroll in.
When I create proposed college lists for students, I aim to include information about the college’s First Year Experience and the Living-Learning Communities they offer. These programs, which I have defined below, are geared toward acclimating students to college life, engaging them in the campus community, providing mentoring and guidance, and offering academic support.
First-year Experience (FYE)—specifically designed to help freshman successfully transition from high school to college. Click here to see an example of the FYE at a larger university (UT Austin) or here to see an example of one at a smaller campus (Pomona).
Living-Learning Communities—houses students with similar interests or in similar programs together in an effort to help them feel more connected and more engaged. Boston University, for example, offers more than 30 themed housing options that can be viewed here.
Other elements students should look at include the level of academic support offered, what the student advising program is like, and what kinds of internships and co-ops are available.
While there are no guarantees that a student will successfully adjust to college life, universities that invest in and offer these kinds of programs communicate the message that the college cares about the well being of its students. It’s a great place to start the process.