College Planning and Application
Students should take the SAT in their junior year of high school. They should also begin to research majors and colleges that they might be interested in. Students should attend the visits of college representatives to our school. Most colleges host open house programs and are also happy to arrange personal tours.
Completion of college applications begin in the fall of their senior year.
College applications are generally completed in the fall of a student’s senior year. Most 4 year colleges now utilize the Common Application which is an online application that can be found at www.commonapp.org. Students will have to create an account. They can then apply to as many colleges as they want (that utilize the Common App). If a college doesn’t use the Common App they can usually apply directly on the college’s website. There is a fee per application unless a student qualifies for free or reduced lunch. They can then request a fee waiver directly through the Common Application.
For most 2 year colleges, applications can be completed right on the college’s website and they are generally free. Students will likely need to know their social security number for the applications.
All applications require an official high school transcript that is sent in by the school counselor. Transcript release forms will be sent home in August of a students senior year and should be returned to the counseling department asap.
Applying to College - Students should:
Make sure that all applications are completed correctly.
Double check to make sure that all the information is complete and accurate and that the essays are well written. (English teachers are often willing to proofread essays). Also make sure that all achievements, activities, and awards are included.
Tip: It’s advised that all students apply to at least one “safety school.” This is a college to which he/she is sure to be accepted, and one that you can definitely afford.
Ask for Letters of Recommendation.
If a teacher/counselor is going to write a recommendation for a student, he/she would probably welcome written information or anecdotes with regards to a student’s strengths, interests, talents, leadership skills and/or educational plans. It would be helpful to provide the recommender with a list of “Activities and Awards” the student received.
Students who need a recommendation should do the following:
- Put the request in writing (email) at least 2 weeks in advance of when it’s needed
- Provide the recommender with a list of “Activities and Awards”
- Give the recommender instructions on what information to include, along with instructions on what to do with the recommendation once it is completed.
Even if an application does not require a recommendation, you can still include one. It is sometimes helpful for college admissions officers to hear from someone who really knows the student if they are on the fence about the accepting the student. Understand that it takes time and thought to write a good letter of recommendation so please give your recommender enough time to write you a thoughtful letter.
Make sure applications are sent in well before the deadlines.
Meeting deadlines is very important.
Tip: Students who are absolutely sure of where they want to go to college may want to consider early admission or early decision. Early admissions shows that a student really wants to attend that college and are applying early. Early decision is when a student applies early and agrees to enroll in that college if they are accepted.
Complete financial aid and scholarship application forms.
If you are applying for financial aid, complete the FAFSA and submit it as soon after October 1st as possible.
Make the decision.
At some point in the spring, after receiving their acceptance(s) students must make a choice as to where to attend. Consider the financial aid package. It is highly recommended that you visit the colleges you are interested in before choosing to attend.
Financial Aid Information
Financial aid is money that is given, earned, or lent to help students pay for their college education. Financial aid often makes it possible for students to attend colleges that would otherwise be too expensive. Students and parents should, therefore, never assume that they cannot afford a particular college or university.
The four categories of financial aid are grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study. Grants and scholarships are considered “free money”; loans and work-study are considered “self-help” programs.
- Grant - money given, usually because of financial need
- Scholarship– money awarded for exceptional academic achievement, an outstanding talent or skill, and/or financial need
- Work-Study– money earned by working at a campus job
- Loan– borrowed money that must be repaid
Financial aid is most often awarded in the form of a “package.” Packages, consisting of grants, scholarships, loans, and/or work-study, are put together by the college’s financial aid office. Except for merit based scholarships, financial aid is generally awarded on the basis of financial need. Financial need is the difference between the cost of attending a college (tuition, fees, room and board, etc.) and the amount a family can afford. For example, if a family can afford $4,000 and the cost of attending a college is $10,000, the student has a financial need of $6,000. The greater the difference, the greater the need, and the more aid the student is eligible to receive.
While the financial aid process can be very confusing, there is help available. High school counselors have information and forms, and they can answer many of your questions. You can also call any college financial aid office for help. For information on federal aid programs, call The Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3543.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – Because most financial aid is based on need, it is necessary to have an objective way to determine how much a family can afford to pay. The FAFSA is the federal form that’s used to determine this amount. The FAFSA asks for information on income, assets, ect. This information is then applied to a formula, and the amount a family should be able to afford (their Estimated Family Contribution or EFC) is exactly calculated.
You should begin working on the FAFSA in December of your son’s or daughter's senior year. For pre-application worksheets or to complete the FAFSA online, go to www.fafsa.ed.gov. If you need a paper FAFSA, check with the guidance office. Submit your FAFSA as soon after January 1st as possible. Financial aid is generally awarded on a “first come, first serve” basis, so get your FAFSA in early.
Approximately 2-6 weeks after you have submitted your FAFSA, you, and the colleges you designated on your FAFSA, will receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR). If you file electronically, you will get your SAR much quicker. Colleges will use the information from your Student Aid Report (SAR) to make up your aid package.
Mount Morris High School’s CEEB code is 333250. This number will be needed for all test registration forms and for college applications.