I know this is the holiday season and everyone is busy. However, your high school senior, who is about to turn the calendar to the year in which they graduate from high shool, might need some supportive encouragement from you right now.
Here are a few tips:
1. Make sure they apply to at least 4 schools. Even if they have their sights set on just one school, help them find a couple of other schools that require the least amount of work to apply (not too many essays). Make sure you make a list of these schools so that when you submit the FAFSA you can include all of them.
This should result in multiple financial aid award letters. Then, when you get the letter from the top choice school, you can see if you are happy with their financial aid award. If not, you can use the award letters from the other schools to help them understand that they need to increase their award in order to attract your child. The majorit of the time this will increase your award.
And let's face it, even if it only increases the award by $2,000 guess what you just did. All things remaining the same you just saved $2,000 times 4 years of college = $8,000. Congratulations.
2. Remember to send the SAT/ACT scores to each of those schools, as well. You want to make sure your appliation is complete.
3. Make a list of the things you need to do to finish the college applications. Make sure that you have a clear summary including when the financial aid is due as well as any other documents the school requires. This is very important for the parents becuase you are the one who is going to have to do the bulk of the FAFSA preparation. You certainly don't want to miss that!
4. Follow up with those who you have asked to write recommendations to double check that they have been completed. ALSO - it would be a really nice step to write each one of them a thank you note.