Don't Get Caught in Deadline Drama

Keeping Track of Key Dates is Crucial to Success

Keep track of those deadlines! It sounds like such a boring use of time, doesn’t it? After all, who wants to spend their time reading submission specifications, calculating hours to completion, and allowing sufficient time to complete all the requirements? Something like that could ruin a perfectly good summer! Unfortunately, when it comes to college applications and college financial aid, deadlines are crucial.

Miss a key deadline and you could miss out on attending or even affording your favorite college, and nobody wants to deal with the drama of that happening. Here are a few deadlines you will need to be aware of in your quest for getting into college:

  • Admission Tests: Although some colleges are becoming test-optional, most still require scores from either the SAT or ACT. First you will need to find out the dates the tests are administered, and then find out the date you need to be registered. You’ll need to allow yourself enough time to study and prepare for the test, and may even want to leave some time to take it twice if you want to try for a higher grade.
  • Application Deadlines: Colleges have several types of admission deadlines - early decision, early action, regular, and rolling. Know how you want to apply, and then determine your deadline. You might even want to set a personal deadline of a week or two in advance of the school’s listed dates, in case they request additional information. Check the school’s list of requirements such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, portfolio, essays and any supplemental requirements, so you will have sufficient time to properly prepare everything.
  • Financial Aid Deadlines: In addition to the application deadlines, colleges may have separate deadlines to apply for financial aid. It is crucial that you keep on top of this deadline, as missing it could mean you could miss out on a substantial amount of financial aid. Again, you want to apply earlier than needed and leave plenty of time to gather necessary documentation. Missing the financial aid deadline for your freshman year could adversely affect your ability to receive financial aid in subsequent years as well.
  • Scholarship Deadlines: There are many generous scholarships which can help pay for much of the cost of a college education. Research scholarship possibilities well in advance, know their deadlines, and understand their requirements.
  • Tuition Deadlines: Once you have been accepted, the school will inform you of when they expect payment. If you need to take out student loans for part of your tuition, you will need some time to research loan possibilities and complete the appropriate paperwork.
  • Student Loan Payments: After you graduate from college, you may have a grace period of about six months before you will need to begin repaying federal student loans. You will also need to determine when payments begin for any private student loans you may have used. Don’t wait until the payment notices start coming due to research any options you may have for deferment, forbearance, or loan consolidation.

While some schools may have a little flexibility in their application and financial aid deadlines, it is always best to assume that they mean what they say. Even if they allow you to apply later, there could be some type of financial penalty involved. If you are having problems meeting a deadline for some reason such as a medical emergency or natural disaster, you can contact the college directly to ask their advice.

Plan ahead, and you can avoid deadline drama.