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Going to college next year? Now is the time to prepare

The school supplies have been purchased, a mountain of paperwork has been completed, and your family is getting settled into a new school year routine.

Amid the back to school hustle and bustle, it’s easy to forget about planning for the future. Now is the time to look ahead, however, especially for high school seniors.

It may seem like there’s plenty of time to get ready for life after high school (ahem, there is this thing called senior year), but many scholarships, financial aid and college applications have fall deadlines. The to-do list can be overwhelming, so here are the most important things for high school seniors and parents to work on this fall and the rest of the school year.

Narrow your list of colleges/other schools. Continue to visit campuses, attend college fairs and do online research.

Re-check college application deadlines and gather all the information needed. Many universities have early admission or priority deadlines – which could be in the fall. Many also have “rolling” admissions policies where students are continually admitted until all slots are filled, so it’s advantageous to apply early.

Take or re-take required tests. Register for the ACT or SAT if you haven’t taken it yet or want to re-take it to try to improve your score.

Complete the FAFSA. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opens on Oct. 1 each year, and can help you get money for your education. To file an application, you’ll need a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID and financial documents from your family. For help completing the application, visit the visit the FAFSA website or attend a workshop in your area.

Search for scholarships. While many merit-based and need-based scholarships are awarded automatically by colleges, you can never have too much money for school. You can find a list of top scholarship sites to search on our resources page.

APPLY TO SCHOOLS! Complete and submit applications for your top colleges/schools. Be sure to follow up to make sure your transcripts, test scores and other documents are sent to the schools, and check with your counselor to make sure you will complete all of the classes that are required for high school graduation.

Keep going! Don’t let senioritis get the best of you. Continue to do your best and finish strong!

Not a senior yet? Check out our list of things to work on before senior year.

Need more help? LEAP Tampa Bay is committed to assisting all Tampa Bay residents in pursuing an education after high school. A comprehensive list of resources, including career and college planning tools and information about financial aid, can be found on our website.

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