It is never too early to begin thinking about which colleges will be affordable for your family. If you follow the steps outlined below, you will be off to a great start!
Take the most rigorous course load that you can handle and work hard. Not only will your high school transcript be the most important factor in the admissions process, it will also be the most important factor in the selection process for many school-based merit scholarships and outside scholarships.
Your grade point average (GPA) will include the classes you take freshman & sophomore year. Don’t get off to a slow start!
Start by estimating the amount you will be able to pay for college. There are many potential sources of funding to pay for college. The earlier you begin investigating them, the more accurate you can be when selecting a school that you can afford. Update the amount you can pay each summer, or as your finances change.
A – Watch the How Much Can I Pay? Video.
B – Download the Family Resources Worksheet.
D – Enter your estimates of the money that will be available for college in the Family Resource Worksheet.
Begin researching the real cost (the Net Price) of specific colleges. This means ignoring the published Sticker Price of each college and estimating how much each school will cost your family.
A – Watch the College Pricing Video.
B – Download the Basic Net Price Worksheet.
C – Read the Net Price Calculator tip sheet.
D – Run Net Price estimates for a few colleges. Start with:
Your flagship state university and/or another in-state public university.
Any private college or university that might be an academic match (living on campus). We recommend choosing at least one from the list schools that meet full need.
A local 4 yr college and/or community college that you could attend while living at home.
Run estimates for as many colleges – of whatever type – as you want. You can link to school Net Price Calculators from school web sites or though the Net Price Calculator Center.
E – Save all your estimates and then transfer the information to your Basic Net Price Worksheet.
Although you won’t actually apply for most outside scholarships until senior year, you can begin compiling a list of specific scholarship opportunities during your freshman or sophomore year of high school. Since this is a labor intensive process, it is a good idea to start early.
A – Read the Outside Scholarships tip sheet.
B – Download the Outside Scholarship Tracker.
C – Register with one or more of the free outside scholarship search services and begin reviewing scholarship opportunities.
D – Begin entering information for each potential scholarship on the Outside Scholarship Tracker.
E – Set up a calendar reminder and spend a few hours a month adding additional scholarships to your Outside Scholarship Tracker.