Oct 19, 2023 RISLA

College Planning Tips for October

Fall is here, and so are corn mazes, pumpkin-spiced lattes, and apple-flavored desserts. Don't get too caught up in all of the fall fun, though; it's time to get serious about applying to college!

Not sure what you should be doing for the month of October? You've come to the right place to help keep you on track.


Attend a Financial Aid Night

Start off October on a strong note by attending a financial aid night at your school or a neighboring high school. These presentations tell you everything you need to know about applying for college financial aid. You will become knowledgeable about how aid is awarded, different types of aid, and how to apply. Our college planning counselors present at high schools all around RI to help educate parents and students. 

Prepare to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

To fill out your application, you are going to need an FSA ID. This ID serves as your "signature" when filling out the FAFSA. Each ID is unique, and no one should be sharing an ID, even if you are a student and parent filling out the FAFSA together. If you haven't already, create an FSA ID here. In order to be eligible for the most funds possible, you want to submit your FAFSA application before your school's deadline. You can get free help completing your FAFSA at the College Planning Center. Book your appointment here.

Revisit the colleges on your list

At this point, you should have your list of 4-8 colleges narrowed down with safety, possible, and reach schools. We recommend going back to each one of these campuses' for a visit, if possible. Maybe you never had the opportunity to do an overnight at the college or shadow a student for the day. Use this time to do so. You want to make sure that you will be happy at each one of these schools on your list.

Check on additional financial aid forms

Some schools require additional financial information even after you filled out and submitted your FAFSA. To avoid having your financial aid application held up, call your financial aid counselor to see if they need any additional forms in order to award you financial aid.

Get your portfolio ready

Are you applying to a specific program that requires supplemental materials? Use this time to finalize your portfolio, audition tapes, etc. Many fine arts or performing arts schools require work samples to analyze your skills and abilities in addition to your application. The admissions counselor and department chair want to see their students succeed, so don't be discouraged if one school defers your application or suggests you apply for the liberal arts program. There may be an opportunity to apply for the program a semester or two later.

Finalize your college essay

Did you finish writing your college essay? Now is the time to add the last finishing touches and fine-tune any errors. Writing your college essay is no easy task. Always be sure to have at least one other set of eyes look over your writing. They may pick up on something that you read right over!

Start your scholarship search

Now is the best time to maximize your "free money" for college. What do I mean by free money? Scholarships! This is the best way to offset the cost of college. As we know, college tuition keeps rising, so try to apply for scholarships that you can renew. Don't get me wrong, any scholarship you are awarded is considered a win. Don't know where to start looking? Head to RIScholarships.org and your high school guidance office for local scholarships.

If you want someone to look over your college essay or to help you with any of the college planning steps, book a free appointment online with the RISLA College Planning Center. Our college planning counselors will happily help you navigate the college process.


Published by RISLA October 19, 2023