Anatomy of a College Application

Here is a great infographic from our friends at College Choice. Check out the infographic and College Choice for more helpful information.

College Applications

7 items needed to fill out the FAFSA

FAFSA is a common acronym that students and parents will hear throughout high school and college. It stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and if students want to be considered for financial aid for their college education, it must be submitted. Students with plans of attending college during the 2015-2016 academic year can submit their FAFSA now. The FAFSA was made available on January 1, 2015.

The easiest way to submit the FAFSA is online at However, if students or parents are more comfortable mailing in the FAFSA form, a paper application is available. There are a few advantages of submitting the FAFSA online, including:

  • Faster processing time. Online FAFSA applications are processed faster than paper application. According to the FAFSA website, online applications are processed in 3-5 days, while paper applications are process within 7-10 days.
  • No need for transcription. Paper applications will need to be transcribed by someone at FAFSA, and mistakes can happen, especially if the handwriting is hard to read. Students and families will have the opportunity to review the information and make corrections if necessary.
  • IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If the student and family have already submitted their taxes, students using the online FAFSA application can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Instead of inputting all of the tax information manually, this tool will pull information from the tax forms already submitted and save the student and parents time.

Before heading over to, students and parents should have a few items available. The items below will be needed when filling out the FAFSA:

  1. Federal Student Aid PIN. The FAFSA needs a signature to be submitted. However, when filling out the form online, the PIN acts as the signature. The student and one parent will need to have a PIN. The student and parent need to each request a PIN. Students and parents can create their own four-number PIN, or have one created by Federal Student Aid.
  2. Social security number. Students submitting the FAFSA must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen as defined by Federal Student Aid. Social security numbers are required for the student and parent(s).
  3. Driver’s license number. If the student has a driver’s license number, the FAFSA form asks for it. However, if the student does not have a driver’s license, this question can be skipped.
  4. Tax records. The FAFSA for the 2015-2016 academic year will need tax records for tax year 2014. If students or parents have not filed their taxes yet, they can estimate the amounts using information from the 2013. However, once the 2014 taxes are filed, students and parents need to update their FAFSA. Once 2014 taxes are file, students and parents can also take advantage of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
  5. Untaxed income information. If students or parents have untaxed income such as child support or interest income, it must be reported on the FAFSA.
  6. Records of assets. Students and parents will need to give information about assets such as savings and checking account balances, as well as investments such as stocks and real estate.
  7. List of schools that should receive FAFSA information. In addition to the FAFSA determining eligibility for federal financial aid, many institutions use the FAFSA information to determine institutional aid. Students can list up to 10 schools on the FAFSA. If students are applying to more than 10 schools, students can add more later.

The 2015-2016 FAFSA can be submitted now through June 30, 2016. However, it is best to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible because some aid is given on a first come, first serve basis. In addition, students should check with their state and all institutions they are considering to find financial aid deadlines and other requirements for financial aid. For example, some colleges also require the CSS Profile or their own financial aid application.

Take some time today to compile all of the necessary information the FAFSA requires and start filling it out today. Every little bit can help when paying for the rising cost of a college education. And remember, the FAFSA must be submitted every year a student is attending college to be eligible for financial aid.

Want to stay in the loop? Follow my blog to be notified when new articles are published. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest for information on college admissions.

Calif. community colleges vie for ability to offer bachelor’s degree programs

In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 850. The bill is a pilot program that will allow 15 community colleges in California to offer one four-year degree program on their campus. California will be the 22nd state to offer bachelor’s degree programs at community colleges. Students taking advantage of the bachelor’s degree programs at the community colleges will be pay much less for their education than students at other California colleges, including California State University campuses. Students at California community colleges could receive a bachelor’s degree for approximately $10,000.

The law stated community colleges would not duplicate courses offered at the University of California or California State University. Instead, the program would fulfill the need of current unmet workforce needs in the local community or region. Once the bill was passed, community colleges districts were invited to submit program proposals and applications to be selected as one of the fifteen colleges. Thirty-four community colleges submitted completed applications, including seven Bay Area colleges.

Below is the list of colleges who have submitted applications and the degree program that have been proposed:

  • Allan Hancock College (Santa Maria) – Applied Technology in Viticulture
  • Antelope Valley College (Lancaster) – Airframe Manufacturing Technology
  • Bakersfield College (Bakersfield) – Industrial Automation
  • College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita) – Network Information Technology
  • Crafton Hills College (Yucaipa) – Emergency Services & Allied Health Systems
  • Cuyamaca College (El Cajon) – Workplace Safety and Environmental Management
  • Cypress College (Cypress) – Mortuary Science
  • Evergreen Valley College (San Jose) – Automotive Technology and Management
  • Feather River College (Quincy) – Equine Industry
  • Foothill College (Los Altos Hills) – Dental Hygiene
  • Fresno City College (Fresno) – Dental Hygiene
  • Glendale College (Glendale) – Real Estate Appraisal
  • Golden West College (Huntington Beach) – Community Corrections
  • Hartnell College (Salinas) – Agricultural Food Safety-Fresh Produce
  • Lake Tahoe College (South Lake Tahoe) – Public Safety Administration
  • Laney College (Oakland) – Sustainable Facilities Management and Operations
  • Merced College (Merced) – Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • MiraCosta College (Oceanside) – Biomanufacturing
  • Modesto Junior College (Modesto) – Respiratory Care
  • Napa Valley College (Napa) – Respiratory Therapy
  • Ohlone College (Fremont) – Respiratory Care
  • Rio Hondo College (Whittier) – Automotive Technology
  • Saddleback College (Mission Viejo) – Sustainable Environmental Design/Sustainable Human Habitat
  • San Diego Mesa College (San Diego) – Health Information Management
  • San Joaquin Delta College (Stockton) – Electron Microscopy
  • Santa Ana College (Santa Ana) – Occupational Studies
  • Santa Monica College (Santa Monica) – Interaction Design
  • Shasta College (Redding) – Health Information Management
  • Skyline College (San Bruno) – Respiratory Therapy
  • Solano Community College (Fairfield) – Biomanufacturing
  • Southwestern College (Chula Vista) – Allied Health Educator
  • Ventura College (Ventura) – Technical Supervision and Management
  • West Los Angeles College (Culver City) – Dental Hygiene
  • Yuba College (Marysville) – Manufacturing Processing & Design

A team has been formed by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to review the applications. The team will include Chancellor’s Office staff, a member of the business workforce community, and representatives from CSU, UC and community colleges that did not apply to host a program. The team will consider geographic distribution, diversity of programs, ability of the district to establish a rigorous program in the field, and that the program will meet an unmet workforce need in the community or region. The team will make their recommendations to the Chancellor, Brice Harris, who will decide what applications are submitted to the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors is scheduled to meet and make their decision on Jan. 21. The programs selected would be required to launch by the 2017-2018 academic year, but could start as soon as this fall.

Scholarship Saturday – Jan. 3, 2015

The deadlines for the scholarships that were on this list have passed. To see scholarships that are still accepting applications, visit more recent Scholarship Saturday posts.

New Year’s resolution ideas for college bound students

The beginning of the year is a time many people create their New Year’s resolutions. Common resolutions include losing weight, working out more, or being more organized. For college bound students, it is a great time to set goals for college. Here are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions for college bound students.

Study hard. Colleges are more likely to admit students who do well academically. Better grades also give students an edge in scholarship competitions. Therefore, it is a good time for students to evaluate their study habits, buckle down, and put in the work to do well in their classes.

Turn in schoolwork on time. Knowing the material is great, but forgetting to turn in assignments can hurt grades. No matter the reason students do not turn in their assignments, it is a good time to figure out why. If assignments are missed because they forget, students can start to better organize their schedules and assignments. If assignments are missed because students procrastinate, students might want to consider figuring out why they put assignments off to the last minute and work towards starting assignments easier.

Evaluate extracurricular and volunteer activities. Colleges like to see students who have quality extracurricular and volunteer activities. Instead of stacking up activities, it is better for students to find quality activities they enjoy and do more than just show up on a membership roster. It is a good time to evaluate how they can get more involved in an activity or take on a leadership role.

Apply for scholarships. Students give many reasons for not applying for outside scholarship, but there is a lot of money up for grabs. There are scholarships available for students of all ages, including students in elementary school. Scheduling even a short amount of time every week, such as an hour, can be a good use of time. Any scholarship, even the smallest amount, can help pay for college.

Get to know teachers and school counselors. Students get so busy with their schoolwork and activities that they forget about making connections with their teachers and counselors. Teachers and school counselors have a lot more to offer than just the subjects they teach. They are great resources when it comes to college and career advice. They are also the people students will need to turn to when they need a recommendation. The best recommendations are the letters that are written by people who know more about the students than just how they participate in one class.

Update or create a resume/brag sheet. Resumes or brag sheets are great resources. When organized well, a brag sheet serves as a great reminder of all of the things a student has accomplished. It can be used to help students fill out college and scholarship applications. The brag sheet can also serve as a great resource for the people who will write recommendation letters for students. Lastly, some colleges and scholarships allow students to submit resumes with their applications.

Research colleges. All high school students, including seniors who have already applied to colleges, can do more research. Research includes reviewing college websites, signing up for college mailing lists, and visiting colleges.

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015!

Want to stay in the loop? Follow me to be notified when new articles are published. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest for information on college admissions.