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September to December

Start your search for grants and scholarships to reduce the amount you may need to borrow.

January to April

File your taxes early and complete your FAFSA® online to improve your chances for receiving more financial aid. Double-check your SAR and make any updates to your FAFSA, if needed. Also be sure to check with your school for additional requirements, and start reviewing your financial award letters.

May to August

Begin to compare your financial aid packages and determine if you still need to borrow. Research and apply for private student loans, and look for a part-time summer job to help pay for college.

FAFSA is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Education.

 


Monthly Reminder

Keep up the Scholarship Search

There’s still time to uncover new scholarships. Try the scholarship search tool.

Apply for Scholarships

It’s not too late to apply for scholarships. Keep searching. Any scholarship you get is free money to help pay for college.

Compare Award Letters

You should see your acceptances and award letters start to come in. Begin comparing offers to figure out what each school will cost.

Look for Jobs and Internships

A summer job is a great way to help pay for college. It’s important to understand how summer jobs can affect Financial Aid.

Read the Fine Print on Scholarships

Before you accept a scholarship, make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully.

Try for More Aid

If your financial circumstances changed, try appealing your financial aid package.

Send Your Deposit

Once you’ve selected a college, send the deposit before the deadline, which is typically due May 1 or shortly after.

Ask About Scholarships

Keep looking for scholarships to see what you can get. Your college may have one that you didn’t know about. Ask!

Look into Campus Living

You’ve made the big choice, now come the smaller ones. It’s time to decide on housing, meal plans and roommates.

Get Working

Sign up for summer jobs or summer internships. The earlier you build out your résumé, the better off you’ll be come college graduation. Plus, any money you earn over the summer can help with college expenses.

Turn Work into Scholarships

Some jobs offer part-time employees access to scholarships or tuition assistance. Ask to see if your summer job can help pay your tuition bill.

Follow Up on Your Financial Aid

Double check to make sure you have your FAFSA acknowledgement, and accept your financial aid package online in your student portal.

Apply for Private Student Loans

If you need help covering your remaining school-certified college costs, now’s the time to apply for your private student loans.

Don’t Forget About Scholarships

Keep looking for scholarships to see what you can get. Your college might have one that you didn’t know about. Ask!

Apply for Private Student Loans

If you still need money to cover school-certified college costs, make sure to apply for private student loans before tuition is due.

Pay Your Tuition

This is the last step before going to college if you are paying tuition out of pocket.

Apply for Summer Scholarships

Not every scholarship has a fall deadline. Research summer scholarships. The slow season might even make it easier to win.

You May Still for Private Student Loans

If you still need money to cover school-certified college costs, make sure to apply for private student loans before tuition is due.

Research Scholarships

It’s never too soon to start researching scholarships so you can get free money for college.

Go to a Financial Aid Workshop

Sign up for any college admissions planning or financial aid workshops your school offers. Bring a parent if you can.

Research Scholarships

Research as many scholarships as you can, and start keeping track of deadlines in a spreadsheet.

Prepare for the FAFSA®

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available October 1. Begin gathering tax information, asset records, Social Security numbers and federal school codes.

Fill Out the FAFSA

The FAFSA is available October 1. No matter what your financial situation, you should fill out the FAFSA

Review Your SAR

After you complete your FAFSA, you’ll receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). Review carefully to make sure all the information from your FAFSA is correct.

Complete the CSS Profile™

In addition to the FAFSA, you may be required to complete the CSS Profile. Nearly 400 colleges use the CSS to determine eligibility for non-federal financial aid, so check with the schools on your list.

Continue Scholarship Research

Keep researching. Start with what you’re good at and look for scholarships that speak to your talents.

Finish Your FAFSA

If you haven’t already, fill out the FAFSA, so you don’t miss out on scholarships, grants or federal loans.

Find New Scholarships

It’s National Scholarship Month! If you need help finding available scholarships, try the Discover Student Loans free scholarship search tool.

Apply for Scholarships

Found some scholarships that seem like a good fit? Send in your applications, and keep the scholarship search going. If you need help finding available scholarships, try the free Discover Student Loans scholarship search tool.

More to Explore

Navigating Financial Aid - Financial Aid
Financial Aid

Navigating Financial Aid


Navigating the financial aid process can seem daunting whether it's your first time in college or you are a returning student. Use these step-by-step instructions to help guide you through the process.


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