Getting Started

Financial Aid Calendar

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High School Senior Year Financial Aid Calendar: Your Step-By-Step Guide To The College Financial Aid Application Process

The calendar below is a suggested timeline to help you get organized and stay on schedule, as you plan for your education, and work to secure college financial aid.

Recommended Timing, When Applying For College Student Financial Aid


  • Apply for admission to your top choice schools.
  • Attend a financial aid workshop, if one is available at your school.

    Note: Many students and families elect to do this during the student’s JUNIOR year to get a jump on the process

  • Apply for scholarships and grants. (You can do this throughout the year, but the earlier, the better!)


  • > Complete and submit the FAFSA over the Internet here.
    > Be sure to indicate your interest in applying for state aid and the Federal Pell Grant.
    > A copy of the results known as the Student Aid Report (SAR) will automatically be sent to the Department of Education for the Federal Pell Grant, the State Student Assistance Agency, and the financial aid office of each school you are applying to.

  • Contact the financial aid administrator at your school(s) for information on application procedures for student loans, grants and any work-study programs.
  • Review the Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education within four to six weeks of submitting your FAFSA form. If you completed it online, you will receive an acknowledgement of the information you submitted on your FAFSA.

    > Please make any necessary changes or corrections, to ensure that your college financial aid applications are reviewed appropriately. Your SAR will either be yellow, green, blue, or pink. (The color rotates each year.)
    > If you filed the FAFSA using estimated income, then you will want to update your SAR (Part Two) when you and your parents complete your federal income-tax returns.
    > The SAR indicates your eligibility for a Pell Grant and Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
    > When you receive your SAR, your college(s) of choice will have also received the results.
    > When you correct the SAR and return it to the central processor, each college will have access to this new information.
    > You can add additional colleges by including the names of these institutions on the SAR, or by calling either (800) 433-3243 or (319) 337-5665.



  • Find alternative student loans or private sources of funding to make up the difference between the total cost of your education and your school aid package, grants, and government loans.
  • Pay required school fees and bills.
  • Verify with the college financial aid office that all of your documentation for federal student loans has been received.
  • Confirm with the business office that your financial aid award(s) for federal student loans and other financial aid has been credited to your account.


  • Start school!
  • Be aware that changes made to your course load may impact the amount of your aid. Check with your college financial aid office before you change your course schedule or credit load.

> Click here for an Overview of Steps to Apply for Financial Aid Online
> Click here to continue to the next section – Financial Aid Options

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