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Make a Plan

Timeline for College Admissions & Financial Aid

From identifying potential schools to paying your first college bill, planning for college requires you to be motivated, organized, and thorough. Follow our timelines for college admissions and financial aid to stay on track.

Spring of Junior Year

Start talking about goals and learn the basics of Applying to College.

Summer After Junior Year

While it's tempting to take a break from all school-related activities during the summer, it's important to keep moving forward in the college application process.

  • Begin to work on your college essays.
  • Continue to visit as many of the colleges on your list as possible.
  • Update your resume to include relevant summer activities.
  • Adjust your college list as your interest in specific schools changes.

Fall of Senior Year

When your senior year begins, it's time to shift the application process into high gear.

Start College Applications
Set up an account in MEFA Pathway to keep track of applications, search for scholarships, and learn about careers. Learn details of each required component and stay organized as you pull together your applications.

Stay On Top of Deadlines
Consider whether an Early Action or Early Decision application makes sense, and keep track of the deadlines at each college. Take the SAT, applicable SAT Subject Tests, and/or ACT (if you didn't do so yet).

Understand Costs & Financial Aid
Use our Expected Family Contribution Calculator to see how much you may be required to pay. Learn how to use each college's Net Price Calculator to get a financial aid estimate and search for private scholarships.

Start the Financial Aid Process
If applying for financial aid, submit the FAFSA®. Apply for Federal Student Aid FSA IDs for the student and one parent. See if the schools on your list require the CSS ProfileTM.

Winter of Senior Year

Once your college applications are submitted, start the process of applying for financial aid.

Learn the Details of Financial Aid
Start by attending a College Financing seminar or webinar.

Submit Financial Aid Applications
Complete the FAFSA. Register to attend a FAFSA Day program if needed. If necessary, complete and submit the CSS Profile or any other required financial aid application.

Apply for Private Scholarships
Ask your school counselor about local scholarships that may be available. Continue to search within free, online scholarship databases, including MEFA Pathway.

Finalize Financial Aid Process
Submit any additional required documentation to each college's financial aid office.

Financial Aid Made Simple
Get a full understanding of the financial aid process, how to apply, deadlines, requirements, and more.

Spring of Senior Year

As you choose among the colleges where you have been accepted, think about how you will pay the bill.

Attend Open House Programs at Accepted Schools

  • Take a last look at each campus and ask questions before the May 1 deadline.
  • Meet with current students and faculty to get a sense of the experience.
  • Sit in on a class if possible.
  • Take advantage of presentations where you can ask important questions, open houses in specific academic departments, and tours of the campus and residence halls.

Evaluate Financial Aid Offers

  • Learn the important details of financial aid offers.
  • Enter the amounts from your first financial aid offer into our College Cost Calculator to estimate your out-of-pocket costs.
  • Repeat this step for additional colleges to compare your offers.
  • Tune in to an After the College Acceptance webinar to learn more about financial aid offers, strategies to pay the bill, and how to minimize loan debt.

Summer After Senior Year

After you graduate from high school, it's time to make a final plan for paying the balance on your college bill.

Determine Financing Options

  • Review your family's finances to identify resources you can tap into.
  • Contact your savings account manager to find out how you can use your savings to pay for college.
  • Reduce your borrowing costs and find the right payment option with our Loan Payment Calculator.
  • Learn about low-cost fixed rate MEFA loans for Massachusetts residents and non-residents who are attending a Massachusetts school.

Pay the College Bill

  • Review our Paying The College Bill section, which covers college billing in more detail.
  • Apply for a private education loan, if needed.
  • Contact the financial aid office with any questions or if your financial situation changes as a result of job loss, divorce, medical expenses, or other issues. Financial aid administrators can be a great resource for families and can assist you throughout the process.
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