The priority deadline for college admissions at a large number of schools is today, Nov. 1, but there are still some schools that have later deadlines. The University of Michigan postponed their deadline to Nov. 15 this year because of COVID-19, and the impact it continues to make on college planning.

Make sure that you are verifying the deadline for each school of interest.

By this time, most high school seniors and college students have completed the Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The applications for financial aid became available on Oct. 1. All seniors should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible for the best consideration of aid offered from the school of their choice.

Current college students need to complete the FAFSA to continue receiving aid. Many families have been impacted financially this year by COVID-19 — and since the FAFSA utilizes the 2019 tax return, it will be important to reach out to the college to request a financial aid appeal.

Many schools and scholarship programs, including The University of Michigan, use the CSS PROFILE in addition to the FAFSA, because they believe that by collecting more detailed information from students and their families, they can make a more complete analysis of a family’s ability to pay for college-related expenses. The CSS Aid PROFILE requires more detailed information about a family’s financial circumstances and contains about 50 percent more questions than the FAFSA.

Unlike the more widely used FAFSA, which is required for any kind of federal aid, as well as for assistance from most states and colleges, the CSS Profile is just for private, non-federal aid. Each school has a different deadline for completion of the CSS Profile — so it is important to check with each school to avoid losing out on private aid offered by the college or university.

A list of information required to complete the CSS Profile is available at https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org. Some of the information that parents will need to provide are the balances of their retirement accounts, value of businesses, the value of their home and other real estate, non-qualified annuities and the age and value of automobiles. Students with divorced parents will also need to have the noncustodial parent file a noncustodial parent form. Seniors should begin searching and applying for additional scholarships. Make sure your student checks with the counseling office for information on scholarships.

Locally, the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation gives away close to $300,000 each year. The 2021 applications will be available in mid-January — visit www.gtrcf.org for more information.

Once a student has been accepted to a college, it is important to search for additional scholarships that may be available for them to apply to. Most colleges have a scholarship listing that is accessible to accepted students. There are many colleges in Michigan that have scholarship competitions — the top students can win a full ride scholarship. Make sure to contact the financial aid office for details on how to apply.

Junior year is important for college planning.

Juniors recently finished taking the PSAT and are awaiting their scores, hoping to find out that they are a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist. Now is a great time for them to start preparing for the April SAT, and determine if they should be taking additional SAT and/or ACT tests to improve their admissibility to the school of their choice. There are many resources available to help with standardized test preparation — including local tutors, Khan Academy and on-line resources.

This is also a great time to start visiting colleges of interest to determine if the school is a good fit, if it offers the desired program, what the requirements for admission are, if it is affordable, and what the chances are of acceptance.

Many colleges are providing virtual tours and one-on-one meetings with recruiters. Some colleges have started offering in person campus visits that typically include a presentation that includes admissions, financial aid and department heads. Prospective students will also be offered a campus tour conducted by a current student that can help them learn more about the college.

For families that would like more information on what they should be doing to get ready for college Michigan College Planning is offering a College Planning workshop. There are workshops in schools adhering to the State guidelines and we have several virtual workshops on the schedule. You can see the schedule at www.michigancollegeplanning.com and at www.tcaps.net/programs/leap/ Contact our office for more details. Michigan College Planning offers a complimentary consultation — so if you would like to schedule an in-person or virtual meeting contact us by phone or email.

Vicki L. Beam is a college planner at Michigan College Planning located in Traverse City.

She encourages questions and comments about future columns. Contact Michigan College Planning at (231)947-0203, by email at vicki@michigancollegeplanning.com and at www.michigancollegeplanning.com.

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