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

Spring of Junior Year

Start by having conversations about post-high school goals and review our Applying to College page to learn the basics.

  1. Attend a College Admissions seminar or watch our College Admissions webinar.
  2. Begin to develop your list of potential colleges. Use our College Application Manager to stay organized.
  3. Take the standardized college entrance exams: SAT, applicable SAT Subject Tests, and/or ACT.
  4. If possible, visit colleges during spring vacation.
  5. Ask teachers for letters of recommendation before you leave for summer break.

Summer After Junior Year

While it’s tempting to take a break from all school-related activities during the summer, it’s important to maintain your momentum in the college application process.

  1. Begin work on your college essays.
  2. Continue to visit as many of the colleges on your list as possible.
  3. Update your resume to include relevant summer activities.
  4. Adjust your college list as your interest in specific schools increases or fades.

Fall of Senior Year

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

  1. Finish your college research and work on your applications.
    • Set up an account in MEFA Pathway to keep track of applications, search for scholarships, and learn more about careers.
  2. Stay on top of application requirements and deadlines.
  3. Learn more about college costs and financial aid.
  4. Start the financial aid process.

Winter of Senior Year

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

  1. Learn the details.
  2. If you haven’t already, submit your financial aid applications.
    • Complete the FAFSA.
    • Register to attend a FAFSA Day program if you need assistance with the FAFSA.
    • If necessary, complete and submit the CSS Profile or any other required financial aid application.
  3. Apply for private scholarships.
    • Ask your school counselor about local scholarships that may be available.
    • Continue to search within free, online scholarship databases.
  4. Complete the remaining steps in the financial aid process.
    • Submit any additional required documentation to each college’s financial aid office.

Spring of Senior Year

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

  1. Attend open house programs at schools where you have been accepted.
    • Take a last look at each campus and ask questions before the May 1 deadline for selecting your college.
    • Meet with current students and faculty to get a sense of the student experience at the school.
    • Sit in on a class if possible.
    • Take advantage of financial aid presentations where you can ask important questions, presentations on career and student services, open houses in specific academic departments, and tours of the campus and residence halls.
  2. Evaluate financial aid offers.

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.

  1. 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 that are available to Massachusetts residents, as well as non-residents who are attending a Massachusetts school.
  2. 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.