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When should you begin applying for colleges, scholarships and financial aid?

If you are planning on receiving your GED, when should you begin applying for colleges, scholarships and loans? #Spring23

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Kimika’s Answer

The specific timelines for college applications, scholarships, and financial aid can vary depending on the institution and program, but generally, here are some guidelines:

For College Applications:
- For Fall admission, applications typically open in the summer or early fall of the previous year (e.g. application opens in August or September 2021 for Fall 2022 admission).
- Deadlines for early action or early decision applications are typically in November or December, while regular decision deadlines are usually in January or February.
- It's recommended to start researching colleges and programs at least a year in advance to ensure you have enough time to gather necessary materials and meet application deadlines.

For Scholarships:
- Many scholarships have deadlines in the fall or winter of the year before you plan to enroll in college (e.g. scholarship applications due in October or November 2021 for Fall 2022 enrollment).
- Some scholarships may have rolling deadlines or be available throughout the year, so it's a good idea to continually search for and apply to scholarships as they become available.

For Financial Aid:
- The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens on October 1 each year for the following academic year (e.g. FAFSA for the 2022-2023 academic year opens on October 1, 2021).
- Some states and colleges have their own financial aid deadlines, so it's important to check with each institution to ensure you submit all necessary materials on time.

If you are planning on receiving your GED, you can still begin researching and planning for college, scholarships, and financial aid. However, it's important to note that some colleges and programs may have additional requirements or application processes for GED recipients, so it's recommended to reach out to each institution directly for more information.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. Lima
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Leah’s Answer

Hello there! You've asked an excellent question. As mentioned before, the majority of college applications become available in the late summer or early autumn - that's a year before your classes start. However, I want to emphasize the significance of preparing for the application process.

It's beneficial to start exploring different colleges as early as your second year in high school. If you're still in school (before earning your GED), guidance counselors can provide you with resources (like websites) that can kickstart your journey.

Take into account factors such as academic standards, SAT/ACT scores, fields of study, the school's location, its size, tuition fees, and so on. These will help you narrow down your choices. Make sure to also check out the specific requirements for GED holders.

Plan to visit some of the schools on your shortlist. Many of them organize special visit days or tours for prospective students. This is a fantastic way to get a feel for the school and its surroundings. Spend some time exploring their websites too, as they're packed with useful information. Be realistic in your choices, keeping in mind your finances, grades, workload, and personal factors. All these elements will shape your final list of potential schools.

It's also wise to maintain a list of your activities, achievements, and leadership roles. This will come in handy when filling out college and scholarship applications. If you notice a lack of extracurricular activities or leadership roles, try to improve in these areas beforehand.

Lastly, start considering your Letters of Recommendation. It's crucial to build strong relationships with 2-3 of your teachers, as they can provide you with compelling letters. If you are no longer in school, think about people who you have worked or studied with that can write a letter of recommendation for you. Best of luck!

Leah recommends the following next steps:

Think about what type of college you want to attend
Start researching different schools (visit websites and in person when possible)
Research GED requirements by school for your potential list
Study for SAT/ACT
Review scholarship opportunities and financial aid sites