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Financial Aid Timeline



Paying for school is a big concern for all of us, especially as transfer students.  This timeline will help you piece together your financial aid package for your transfer school.  This timeline is reflective of a process, so get ready!​



​Schedule interviews and visit schools.

Finalize the list of schools to which you plan to apply.
Create a calendar of application and financial aid deadlines for each school.​




​​-Check your college transcript against the admissions requirements for the schools to which you plan to apply

​-Register for October/November SAT I, SAT II, and/or ACT tests that many schools require.​

-Begin scholarship and grant research

-Review Scholarship Search Engine.  Click here.

-Request scholarship applications as soon as they are available.​



-Take the SAT and/or ACT tests, and have your scores sent to the schools where you are applying.

*Register for the CSS/Financial Aid Profile here:


This is the College Board's financial aid application service, and will be required by most selective colleges with few exceptions (e.g. NYU).  Consider it the private colleges' version of FAFSA. ​



-Keep applying for scholarships.  Note that major national scholarships like the Jack Kent Cooke have internal or Phase I deadlines in Nov. or Dec..

-Familiarize yourself with each school's financial aid information.​

-See if each school offers any private awards or transfer scholarships, and find out about their application processes.
-If you are a member of an honor society (Alpha Beta Gamma, Psi Beta or Phi Theta Kappa), you should check for scholarships for these societies' members.  For example, Phi Theta Kappa members can use their Collegefish account to find out about PTK transfer scholarships.  Not all 4-year colleges offer PTK transfer scholarships (and CUNY doesn't), but many do.  Contact the specific college's PTK transfer scholarship representative as listed in the Collegefish database for eligibility and application info.



-Gather your parents and your own financial and tax information, and download a
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  You should fill it out so that in January, you will breeze right through the online FAFSA form.
-Ask professors, advisors, and other mentors to write scholarship letters of recommendation for you.​



​​JANUARY: A Very Intense Month for Financial Aid Deadlines​


-Fill and submit your FAFSA online.  For most schools, you have until February 1st to submit both CSS Profile and the FAFSA to meet the priority deadline.

-If you are waiting for tax information, you can estimate income figures based on the previous year.

-Complete and turn in school-specific financial aid applications (e.g. Swarthmore and UPenn have these).

-Ask your college to send a transcript of the fall semester to any schools that require them.  Most selective colleges (99.95% of them) will require a transcript and yes, at LaGuardia, it costs $7.00 for each one. Think of this as an investment.


-Check on your applications and recommendation letters, and confirm that your test scores went to the right schools.

-Go to the transfer services office (B-215) and request an application fee waiver for all of your schools!  This will save you a lot of money (e.g. 15 school applications x $70= $1050.00).


-Have your spouse (if any), your family and yourself file taxes EARLY this year, say, this month!  Schools require transfer students to send their and their parents (and spouses, if applicable) W-2 forms, Federal income tax returns, and supplemental material (e.g. Business Tax Return Supplement, if applicable) to their financial aid offices.  Now, your CSS profile has an IDOC service, which requires you to send in all the aforementioned information.  However, only about half of all selective schools use IDOC service.  Make sure to keep track of the schools that use it and those that don't.  For those that don't, you will have to send them your and your parents' financial information directly to their financial aid offices.​



-Scholarships, Scholarships, & Scholarships.
-Proofread, photocopy, and submit your completed college applications
-Expect to receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within 4 weeks of submitting your FAFSA.

-Make any necessary changes and resubmit your SAR if appropriate.


-Contact your schools' admissions and financial aid offices to make sure they have everything they need.  Keep your grades up!
-Your acceptance packages will begin to come in.  Look through these packages carefully.  Some schools may require you to submit forms or complete and sign an acceptance letter to make your admission official.

-Review your financial aid and scholarship offers.  Evaluate them side-by-side.
Take note of the amount of free aid, such as grants and scholarships.  Try to accept a package that features fewer loans and lower out-of-pocket costs.  Remember, it is OK to accept just parts of a financial aid offer.  For example, if you decide to live at home, you can accept grants and work-study, but turn down the loans offered for room and board.

-Some schools may offer a payment plan as an alternative to borrowing the full amount of loans.  This option may be worth considering if it is possible for you and your family.  If you are on the waiting list of your favorite school, call or write its admissions office and let them know you are still interested.​



-Expect to receive most, if not all, of your admission decisions by May 30.
-Make a final decision about which school you will attend.
-Submit a deposit to your selected school to secure your place.  Many schools require a deposit and signed acceptance form by May 30.  If you can't afford to submit the deposit right away, contact the schools financial aid office immediately. They can tell you about your options so you don't lose your spot.

-Once you accept an offer, contact other schools that have accepted you and let them know you won't be attending.
-Notify your colleges financial aid office of any private scholarships or funding you will be receiving.  Fill out your loan applications.
-Send your final transcript to your chosen school.​



-Contact your school to find out when your fees for tuition and room and board are due.​

-Set a high goal, around 60-90 scholarships, and apply!  Review our Transfer Timeline Bonus and Scholarship Guide (in Useful Documents section) for more details.

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