It’s junior year! This is a turning point in your educational journey, and college planning kicks into full speed. It’s time to focus on your future, develop your strengths and manage your time.
Narrow Your Choices
Look online. Go to college fairs or attend virtual information sessions, if offered. Speak to college representatives that visit your high school. Start to actively learn more about the colleges you are interested in.
Transitioning from high school to college can be stressful. Don’t forget about college life outside the classroom. Student clubs and an overall supportive environment for your first year and beyond are key to enjoying your college experience.
Get Familiar with Placement Testing
The PSAT (available in October) is a good way to practice for the SAT, plus it qualifies you for the National Merit Scholarship Program. If you score high enough, you’ll be eligible for scholarships to help you pay for college.
You might decide to attend a college that doesn’t require placement test scores. Learn about the different tests offered, if you’ll need to take one and when the testing dates are. Your school may have a free testing day for SAT or ACT as well.
Check in with Your Counselor
Your school counselor can make sure you’re on track to meet your academic requirements and give you resources to research dates and deadlines. Be sure to check your GPA and ask questions.
Learn About Financial Aid & Scholarships
Did you know millions of dollars in financial aid and student scholarships are available to eligible students every year? That’s a lot of money! With that, there’s also lot you need to know, so start researching now and take it one step at a time.
Get to Know the Financial Aid Terminology
Scholarships: Scholarships don’t need to be paid back and there are a ton out there! You can get scholarships through:
- Educational institutions (for example through the Admissions Office and various academic departments at the college you’re planning to attend).
- Most colleges have an entity called a Foundation. The Foundation supports and provides resources to students. Scholarships available through your college’s foundation are funded by private donors.
- Many agencies throughout the state of Florida offer scholarships and if you already have a job, your employer might even offer them!
Grants: Grants do not need to be paid back. They are awarded based on personal financial need.
Loans: There are several types of student loans. Loans are available through the federal government and through private institutions, like banks. Loans must be paid back, and they accrue interest so be sure you fully understand the terms of any loan you accept and what your financial responsibility will be.
Federal Work Study: This program allows eligible college students to earn money through part time jobs on or off-campus.
The only way to determine if you qualify for any (or all!) of the financial aid options available is to submit the Free (yes, FREE) Application for Federal Student Aid – often referred to as the FAFSA. It takes less than 30 minutes and you only need to submit it once a year.