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2006: A look back - A look ahead  
  Change was the name of the game in 2006 while the biggest push for reform in 2007 will be aimed at college-related debt.
 College financing
 Personal finance calendar  Personal finance calendar 

Timeline for financing a college education


  • Complete family taxes as early as possible because you'll need to submit the tax return for the previous year with your FAFSA. The Department of Education uses the FAFSA to determine a student's eligibility for federal and state funds.
  • As soon as tax returns have been filed, submit the FAFSA online.
  • February

  • Continue filling out financial-aid forms for prospective schools, as well as scholarship applications according to your deadline calendar. Though you have already filled out your FAFSA, some colleges have additional paperwork you must submit to request financial aid.
  • As you submit these forms to various colleges, follow up to make sure all paperwork has been received.
  • Keep looking for more scholarships. Churches, civic organizations and philanthropists could be possible sources of funding.
  • Check in with a high school guidance counselor to see if more scholarship opportunities have come in.
  • March

  • Follow up on any scholarship applications submitted in the fall if you have not yet received an award notification.
  • By now you should have received your Student Aid Report, or SAR, which summarizes the data you reported on your FAFSA. Check it to make sure it is accurate.
  • If there are mistakes or if you have not received your SAR, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
  • April

  • Continue to follow up on scholarship and financial aid applications you've submitted. Look out for responses to applications in the mail.
  • Look for acceptance deadlines on any scholarship or financial-aid awards. The student might have to formally accept the scholarship or financial aid by a certain date.
  • Compare the amount of financial aid awarded to the cost of tuition.
  • May

    • Fill out student loan applications if loans are part of the student's financial aid package.
    • Continue following up on scholarship applications if you have not yet received notification.
    • If you do receive additional scholarships, let the student's chosen college's financial aid office know about them. They might adjust the financial aid package that they offer accordingly.


    • Keep looking for scholarship opportunities being awarded by local businesses and groups.
    • Get a summer job to generate more money for college.


    • Continue looking for last-minute scholarship money, or look for scholarships that can be applied for in the fall to help pay for the student's second year of college.


    • Look for back-to-school sales to help pay for school supplies.
    • Start packing.
    -- Updated: Nov. 1, 2006
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