Cherokee trail High School Junior/Senior College Planning Guide

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1 Cherokee trail High School Junior/Senior College Planning Guide

2 Cherokee Trail High School Junior/Senior College Planning Guide Table of Contents Calendar 2 CTHS Senior Calendar CTHS Junior Calendar Selecting the Best School for You 11 Types of Post Secondary Schools and Programs CCHE Index for Admissions to Colorado Colleges Colorado Colleges Qualifying for Admission Higher Education Requirements (HEAR) Tips on Researching and Selecting a College Which College is Right for You? Admission to Highly Selective Schools Applying Early Action/Early Decision The College Application Process 26 What Colleges Look For in Applicants Filling Out Your College Application The CTHS College Application Checklist Requesting and Processing a Transcript and Supporting Materials Transcript/Scholarship Request Deadlines Financing Your Education 34 Financial Aid An Overview The FAFSA Scholarships Your Financial Aid Checklist Appendix 48 Online College Resources Glossary of Terms 1

3 Calendars I. CTHS Senior Calendar II. CTHS Junior Calendar 2

4 CHEROKEE TRAIL HIGH SCHOOL Senior Calendar Fall Semester Attend the Post Secondary Planning Day at CTHS on Wednesday, September 17, 2013 for all seniors. More details will be available when school begins, stay tuned! Sign up take or retake the ACT, SAT, or SAT II if necessary at (ACT) and (SAT). Remember, most colleges typically accept your best scores for individual subtests. Register online at (link available on Naviance) - CTHS code is ACT Test Dates Registration Deadline Late Deadline September 21, 2013 August 23, 2013 September 6, 2013 October 26, 2013 September 27, 2013 October 11, 2013 December 14, 2013 November 8, 2013 November 22, 2013 February 8, 2014 January 10, 2014 January 14,2014. April 12,2014 March 7, 2014 March 21, 2014 June 14, 2014 May 9,2014 May 23, 2014 Register online at (link available on Naviance) - CTHS code is SAT Test Dates Registration Deadline Late Deadline October 5, 2013 September 6, 2013 September 20,2013 November 2, 2013 October 3, 2013 October 18, 2013 December 7, 2013 November 8, 2013 November 22, 2013 January 25, 2014 December 27, 2013 January 10, 2014 March 8, 2014 February 7, 2014 February 21,2014 May 3, 2014 April 4, 2014 April 18, 2014 June 4, 2014 May 9, 2014 May 23,

5 Be sure you have selected challenging courses, double check college entrance requirements for your top interest colleges and maintain your grade point average. (Aug) Update your address/user ID in Naviance in order to receive important reminders from the counseling office. You must log onto Naviance at using your original /user ID and password, then click on my account and change your address if necessary. Finalize your short list of colleges to which you will apply (Aug.-Oct.) Make appointments to see your counselor throughout the year to make sure that you are on track for CTHS graduation, and also meeting college course admission requirements. If you are applying Early Action or Early Decision to any selective/highly selective colleges, check the application deadlines, which are typically in early November. Prepare all accompanying documents to your online application by early October. Download or send for admission applications for colleges to which you are applying and begin filling out applications (Sept-Nov.). Make sure you are applying to at least one foundation school. Make an appointment with your counselor to review your college choices and application materials. It is recommended that if you are submitting a common application to a college for admission, that you have your counselor preview the application before you submit it electronically to ensure accuracy. Request that a six or seven semester official transcript be sent to all colleges that you have applied to during the fall semester. Fill out the Transcript Request Form in the CTHS Counseling/Post Grad Office. This form is also available through the Naviance Library link (The fee per transcript is $5.00) Be sure to review the Transcript Request Deadline for all College/Scholarship Applications information, located in the Counseling/Post Grad office and this guide. Keep an organized folder of application materials for each college to which you are applying. Frequently check deadlines! Begin working on your college admission essay(s) if required by the schools to which you are applying. (Sept.) Seek assistance from your English teacher before submitting the final essay with your application. Arrange for letters of recommendation only if required by the colleges to which you are applying. Please allow 2-3 weeks for the letter to be completed. (Sept. / Oct.) Update your Jr/Sr Conference Worksheet link on Naviance so that teachers and counselors can refer to a complete listing of your activities and information. Most teachers will submit an electronic copy of the letter to the Counseling/Post Grad office to be forwarded with your transcript. The bright green Request for Recommendation form is available in the Counseling/Post Grad office. If you are applying to a Common Application school, you will need to submit a bright green Request for Recommendation form to your teacher with the appropriate information. The teacher then logs onto Naviance and fills out an electronic version of the college s teacher recommendation form. Electronic recommendations are always used for common application schools, including CSU. 4

6 Recommendations from counselors, often called Secondary School Report forms are a required component of your college application to any Common Application school, and must be requested using the bright green Request for Recommendation form. The process is much the same as the teacher recommendations (see previous bullet). Common Application schools require a letter of recommendation from your counselor to be submitted along with the Secondary School Report. You must complete your Jr/Sr Conference worksheet on Naviance in order for your counselor to complete your letter of recommendation. All requests are submitted to Ms. Budden in the Counseling/Post Grad office and will be forwarded to your counselor. Please allow 2-3 weeks for your counselor to complete your letter of recommendation. Apply to rolling admissions institutions beginning October 1st and preferably before February 1st to be eligible for financial aid. Most Colorado colleges recommend applying before Winter Break due to the large numbers of applications they receive. It is recommended that you make an appointment with your counselor to review your college and scholarship applications. If you would like your college and/or scholarship applications reviewed by your counselor, submit them 2 weeks before application deadlines. Attend the In-State College Fair on October 7th at Smoky Hill High School from 6:00 pm-7:30 pm to meet with representatives from in-state colleges and universities to gather more information. Attend the Greater Denver College Fair on October 12th at Douglas County High School.. This college fair for students and parents features 20 college information sessions and provides the opportunity to meet with admissions representatives from over 250 colleges and universities. Continue to attend college representative meetings during school hours throughout the first semester. Look for posters in the halls listing visits and sign up in the Counseling/Post Grad office to attend. Start your Financial Aid process. Both you and your parents need to obtain a PIN at so you can fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) online at Check to see if the colleges to which you are applying require any other financial aid forms. Completing the FAFSA just after January 1st is strongly encouraged! Fill out the CSS Financial Aid Profile required by most private colleges for those seeking financial aid at Typically the fee for completing the CSS Profile is $25 for submission to one school. Additional CSS Profile reports are approximately $18-$19 per school. (Oct.-Dec.) Attend the CTHS Financial Aid Workshopt for students and parents February 5, 2014 Visit college campuses for schools you are still considering. Most colleges offer a fall visitation day for prospective students. Be sure to go with a friend or parent, or do a virtual tour. (Sept.-Dec.) Prepare for possible college interviews that are required by some private and selective colleges. The Counseling/Post Grad office has tips and lists of questions. If the interview is optional and the college is in-state (DU, Colorado College), the expectation is that you will schedule an interview! (Nov.) Withdraw all other admission applications if you applied, and have been admitted, to a college via Early Decision. (Dec./Jan.) 5

7 Begin an online financial aid and scholarship search. A list of resources is available in this CTHS College Planning Guide Suggested websites: (see links) Be sure to visit the financial aid sites of the colleges you are applying. Scholarship information is always available. In many cases, the scholarship deadline may be in advance of the application deadline. Another reason to apply early! Spring Semester Verify that your FAFSA application has been sent January 1st-February 15th. Apply online at and allow at least 2-3 days to receive PIN number. Apply for your pin at You need a PIN to sign electronically your FAFSA! Forward your FAFSA application and/or SAR information to the financial aid office(s) of the colleges you have applied to in order to be considered for college-specific financial aid if you did not list the college as a recipient on your FAFSA form. (Jan.-Mar.) Send your college testing scores to any colleges to which you have applied, but have not already forwarded ALL of your scores yet. (Oct.-Jan.) *You can forward scores online or call at*: ACT- (319) SAT- (609) AP- (877) *Most colleges require ALL test scores be sent directly from ACT or CollegeBoard (SAT) and not the high school. After choosing the college that you will be attending in the fall and verifying your acceptance, notify the other institutions to which you have applied that you are withdrawing your admission application. Option: Wait until you have received information from each school s financial aid office in the spring to determine the best financial aid package before accepting one specific college. Watch deadlines as all colleges will require that you accept or deny by a specific date, typically no later than May 1 st. After confirming your admission, contact the college financial aid office of the school you will be attending. Confirm that your FAFSA information was received, and inquire about school-specific financial aid forms that may need to be filled out this spring. If needed, make an appointment with a financial aid counselor to explore maximum financial aid opportunities. (Feb. - May) See this guide for details on how the FAFSA is processed. Check with the college admissions office of the college you will be attending next fall to see if they require a 7th semester high school transcript, or Mid-Year Report. Most Common Application schools require a Mid-Year Report to be completed. The Counseling/Post Grad office will follow the same procedure for a Mid-Year Report as a Secondary School Report. (Jan.-Feb.) 6

8 Continue to research scholarship opportunities through the CTHS Scholarship Newsletter, internet resources, and sources listed in the CTHS Scholarship binder in the Counseling/Post Grad office. Submit individual applications and check for deadlines and required materials needed to complete your scholarship application. Notify the college of any private scholarships or grants you will be receiving. Know when the payment for tuition, room and board, meal plans, etc., is due. If necessary, ask the financial aid office about a possible payment plan that will allow you to pay in installments. Be sure to apply for on-campus housing at the university you will be attending. Housing assignments are typically assigned on a first-come-first-served basis, so apply early if the housing location is important to you! (Mar. /Apr.) An 8th semester, or final transcript, will be sent out to the college you will be attending upon completion of your senior survey and graduation checkout sheet. (May) Congratulations! You have completed a difficult task, now it is time to look forward to graduation! Good Luck Seniors! 7

9 CHEROKEE TRAIL HIGH SCHOOL Junior Calendar Fall Semester Select challenging courses and maintain or better your grade point average throughout the year. Sign up for the PSAT during registration check-in in August. The test is offered at CTHS on Saturday, October 19th. Cost is $25; this is a highly recommended practice test for college-bound students. Seats available are on a first-come, first-serve basis. A late fee will be assessed for any sign up after October 1, Continue to research two and four-year colleges through the Naviance Family Connection s website. Registered students can log onto and use their First Class addresses for the Naviance user ID. Most students used the password of college. Attend college representative meetings throughout the year. Rep visits will be posted on the closed circuit television, as well as on hallway posters and the web. Students should sign up in the Counseling/Post Grad office to attend. Log onto Naviance and begin doing practice lessons and ACT practice tests through the Naviance Method Test Prep program. This an excellent (and free!) way to become familiar with the types of questions asked on college entrance exams. Attend college fairs in October for in-state and out-of-state two and four year colleges. The NACAC Fair on October 17th will host over 250 nationwide colleges. The CCSD College Fair at Smoky Hill will be on October 7th from 6:00pm-7:30 pm, and will host approximately 50 colleges from the western region (mostly Colorado colleges). Complete junior Naviance training on college research methods in November with the counselors in the computer labs. This is typically done during your U.S. History class. All juniors will need to plan to make an appointment to meet with their counselor for a Junior Conference. All juniors should plan to meet with their counselor sometime between November and May for a Junior Conference to review progress towards graduation and post graduate plans. Juniors should visit the Counseling/Post Grad office to schedule an appointment for their junior conference beginning in November, This conference is a critical component to help all juniors prepare for their senior year and will enable the counselors to assist all juniors in college/career planning. 8

10 Spring Semester Sign up for college entrance exams at (ACT) and (SAT). Students need to sign up online approximately 6 weeks in advance of the test. All juniors attending college are recommended to take the ACT exam twice. It is highly recommended that 11th graders take the ACT with Writing, offered in June of their junior year. Students should plan to list up to four colleges that will be recipients of their ACT or SAT scores when signing up for the exam. The spring 2010 dates for the exams are: Register online at (link available on Naviance) - CTHS code is ACT Test Dates Registration Deadline Late Deadline September 21, 2013 August 23, 2013 September 6, 2013 October 26, 2013 September 27, 2013 October 11, 2013 December 14, 2013 November 8, 2013 November 22, 2013 February 8, 2014 January 10, 2014 January 14,2014. April 12,2014 March 7, 2014 March 21, 2014 June 14, 2014 May 9,2014 May 23, 2014 Register online at (link available on Naviance) - CTHS code is SAT Test Dates Registration Deadline Late Deadline October 5, 2013 September 6, 2013 September 20,2013 November 2, 2013 October 3, 2013 October 18, 2013 December 7, 2013 November 8, 2013 November 22, 2013 January 25, 2014 December 27, 2013 January 10, 2014 March 8, 2014 February 7, 2014 February 21,2014 May 3, 2014 April 4, 2014 April 18, 2014 June 4, 2014 May 9, 2014 May 23, 2014 **As you identify colleges you would like to apply to next fall, check to see if the colleges require SAT II subject tests. If so, plan to take those tests at the end of your junior year or the beginning of your 12th grade year. 9

11 Attend the College Night for Juniors in November 2013 for information on the 4-year and 2-year college admission process, financial aid & scholarships, and vocational training programs. Watch for details and announcements about this important event! Continue to research colleges of interest identified through the Naviance website at Send for college catalogs and applications for your top schools of interest, and check the Counseling/Post Grad office for information on colleges and college rep visits. Attend the Spring College Fair at DU in April to meet with representatives from over 150 colleges and gather information on colleges of interest. Visit college campuses of interest with your family or on your own. Attend the freshman spring open houses for incoming freshmen interested in applying in the fall. For campuses you are not able to visit, do a virtual tour at or Pre-register for challenging courses in your senior year, and be sure to double check college entrance requirements to ensure that you are completing all course requirements for the schools that you will be applying to in your senior year. Make plans for summer college tours and any scholarship deadlines that may come up over the summer. 10

12 Selecting the Best School for You I. Types of post secondary schools and programs II. Colorado Colleges/Qualifying for admission a. CCHE Index for admissions to Colorado Colleges b. Higher Education Requirements (HEAR) III. IV. Tips on researching and selecting a college Which college is right for you? V. Admission to highly selective colleges VI. Applying Early Action/Early Decision 11

13 Types of post Secondary schools and programs Four Year Colleges and Universities Most CTHS students will choose to go to either a two-year college, typically a community college or vocational school, or a four-year college to get their post graduate education or training. There are approximately 2000 colleges in the United States that offer a four year Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree. These colleges are either public institutions, which are supported by state funds, or private institutions, which are tuition supported or receive donations by attendees, alumni, or private donors. Universities usually include several undergraduate colleges housed within the university s campus. The colleges specialize in subject and or major areas such as business, education, arts and sciences, and award a four-year Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree upon completion of the major s requirements. Universities tend to be larger than colleges, and therefore tend to offer diverse majors of study and courses. Since the student body is larger, freshman and introductory classes in many required subjects tend to be quite large, sometimes numbering well over 100 students. The opportunity for one-on-one assistance from a professor or instructor in a class such as this can be limited. Often students applying to a university may apply as an Undeclared or Undecided major in order to explore a variety of interests upon entering the college. In-state public colleges and universities often have lower tuition costs, especially for in-state residents. Attending a public college or university out of state can often significantly increase the cost of attendance per year. Some states do allow students to receive in-state tuition after one or more years of full-time residency. Students choosing to attend an out of state college or university should check with the admissions office of the college they plan to attend for residency qualifications and more information. Private colleges and universities tend to be much more selective when choosing which students they will admit. Although the cost of attendance at a private college or university may be higher, often private schools fund incoming freshman with more financial aid to offset the costs to the family or individual. Private schools tend to have a higher rate of retention (students completing a degree) than a larger, public institution, and may be able to provide more individualized help to students. Liberal Arts colleges offer a Bachelor of Arts degree and provide a broad foundation of classes in the arts, social sciences, humanities, and sciences for degree completion. Liberal Arts colleges tend to be private and smaller, with many of their graduates choosing to continue their degree in a specialized graduate program. WUE Colleges (Western Undergraduate Exchange) are out-of-state schools that offer reduced tuition rates for applicants who are residents of Colorado. The Western Interstate Commission coordinates this program for Higher Education. Students who choose this program must be accepted and enroll in qualifying out-of-state colleges and universities at the reduced tuition rate of 150% (1 ½ times) the institution s resident, or in-state tuition. Participating states include Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. For updates and information, check the website at 12

14 Two Year Colleges Two year colleges, often referred to as community or junior colleges, offer students a smaller, more personalized approach as they begin their post secondary education. Two year colleges offer students a variety of choices. A student may choose to pursue a two- year associate s degree in a specialized field, or a student may choose a two year college to do their general education courses before transferring to a four year college where they would finish their bachelor degree. Some may opt to take only specialized coursework for a one or two year certification and/or training prior to employment. Generally, two -year colleges are less expensive to attend than a four year college or university, and they typically do not provide housing for students on campus. Vocational/Technical schools are similar to community colleges in that they offer a variety of career-oriented programs, as well as specialized training classes. Programs vary in length from one semester to perhaps two years. This option is appealing in that certification and or licensing may be offered to the student upon completion of the program they choose to pursue. Typically, they do not provide housing for students on campus. The Colorado Community College System and Career & Technical Training A senior in high school may find appealing the choice to attend a community college to complete general education courses prior to transferring to a four year college, or a vocational/technical school in order to receive the training necessary for the career of their choice. Within the last several years the State of Colorado, in conjunction with the Colorado Community College System, has begun to develop career pathways which list the courses needed (cluster of study), and available at local community colleges in order to receive an associate s degree (two year degree) or certification in the chosen career area. More information on the specific career pathways, as well as how to develop and refine a career pathway can be found on Naviance at as well as or Students interested can make an appointment to meet with their high school counselor to review their career pathway plan. Additionally, most in-state four year colleges have made it easier to transfer credits from an associate s degree received at an in-state community college to an in-state four year college in order to complete a bachelor s degree. Since the fall of 2003, all Colorado public four year institutions have agreed to honor the transfer of an Associate of Arts (AA) degree and the Associate of Science (AS) degree earned at any Colorado community college. (All credits earned with a C grade or better on the student s associate degree program transcript will transfer to the four year college; a minimum of 35 credit hours of lower division general education and 25 credit hours of additional graduation credit. As a result, most students transferring with an AA or AS degree from a Colorado community college to an in-state four year college can enter as a college level junior.). What are the Benefits of Attending a Community College? The cost of attendance is more affordable when compared to a four year college or university. Did you know that The College Opportunity Fund tuition grant would offset a significant portion of a student s tuition cost at a community college! (All students should sign up at Students have the option to live at home to save the room and board costs associated with living on the campus of a four year college. Class size is typically smaller, thus allowing more one-on-one assistance for students. 13

15 Students needing remediation in core areas such as English, math, science, or social studies will find a greater number of remedial courses offered at a community college. Any student unsure of their plans can take advantage of technical training or work towards their Associates Degree. Upon completion of their program, they can transfer to a four year college to continue their education and complete a Bachelors Degree. Sign up for the ACCUPLACER exam. ACCUPLACER is a suite of tests that quickly, accurately, and efficiently assess reading, writing, math, and computer skills. Many community colleges require you to take this exam in order to place students accurately. You can learn more about the ACCUPLACER program at Admission is guaranteed, and ACT or SAT test scores are not required! Colorado Colleges/Qualifying for admission The Colorado Commission on Higher Education Index The Index The Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) oversees admission standards for Colorado colleges and universities and sets the standards for admission for first-time freshman students. Colorado colleges and universities have determined what their acceptable baseline index scores are for new applicants, so that high school students considering specific in-state institutions will have a general idea regarding their prospects for admission. Using a combination of the cumulative high school GPA, and ACT or SAT scores, a high school student can determine their index score, and thus the likelihood of admission to the specific Colorado college or university as a first-time freshman. (See The Index on the following page) All students should bear in mind that The Index score is a general indicator of admission only, and there is no guarantee that a student above the baseline score would be admitted. Conversely, having a score below the baseline does not mean failure to be admitted to the college or university. In cases where a student s index score is lower than the baseline number, it is more than likely the college or university will consider a student s application for admission based on other holistic factors such as test scores, strength of curriculum, personal statement/essays, letters of recommendation, etc. Students should meet with their counselor if they are below the benchmark number on The Index. The counselor can advise a student on ways to enhance their application to highlight the holistic factors mentioned above. 14

16 Note: the CCHE requirements remain the same for the fall

17 The Index A Reference for Incoming Freshman Used by Public College & Universities in Colorado College Name Index Number Required Adams State College* 80 Colorado School of Mines 110 Colorado State University Ft. Collins 101 Colorado State University Pueblo 86 Fort Lewis College 92 Mesa State College* 85 Metropolitan State College** 76 University of Colorado at Boulder*** 103 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs 92 University of Colorado at Denver 93 University of Northern Colorado 94 Western State College 80 *Applies to students admitted to four year programs only. **Applies to admitted students 19 years of age and younger. ***Although the minimum index is 103, the median index is 117. These index scores are effective through fall Check with your counselor to verify if there have been any updates or changes. 16

18 Colorado Commission on Higher Education Requirements (HEAR) The Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) has instituted requirement standards for all incoming freshman. The standards require that first-time applicants complete course requirements, or pre-collegiate standards, in order to qualify for admission to a four year college directly from high school*. In most cases, students must earn a C- grade or better in the required courses to meet the standards. Private colleges and universities set their own standards of admission and any student interested in applying should review the college website for clarity on their admission standards. Community colleges are open-admission schools and therefore do not subject applicants to the admission standards listed below. Higher Education Admission Requirements (HEAR): English** Mathematics*** (must include Algebra I and higher) Natural Sciences (2 years must be lab-based) Social Sciences (1 year must be U.S. or World History) World Language Academic Electives**** 4 years 4 years 3 years 3 years 1 year (minimum) 2 years *CCHE, CDE, and School Districts are developing standards for alternative demonstration of proficiency to be accepted in lieu of course completion. **Two units of ELL may count for HEAR requirements when combined with two units of successfully completed college preparatory English. ***College Preparatory ELL mathematics/science courses that include content and academic rigor comparable to other acceptable courses may satisfy HEAR requirements. ****Acceptable Academic Electives include additional courses in English, mathematics, natural/physical sciences and social sciences, foreign languages, art, music, theater, computer science, business, marketing, honors, AP, IB, and appropriate CTE courses. Although some four year colleges may only require two years of lab science for admission, three years are highly recommended for college readiness. For more information on HEAR, please see the CCHE website at or the Colorado Commission on Higher Education at (720)

19 Tips on Researching and Selecting a College Using Naviance as a Research Tool Naviance is a web-based data management tool for all CTHS students to assist in registering and planning for high school courses, researching careers and colleges, as well as assisting students as they navigate and manage the college application process. All CTHS students have been introduced and trained on the Naviance website, with students indicating a four year plan, areas of career interest, as well as colleges of interest, by the end of their junior year. The CTHS Counseling/Post Grad office uses Naviance to communicate with students and parents, guide students using Naviance as a way to deliver important guidance curriculum, and manage the many facets of processing college applications. The Naviance Family Connection website: Allows students to set parameters on the College Search link to find colleges that align with their areas of interest. Allows students to apply to colleges that they have put on their list of Colleges I am Applying to by linking to that college s online application. Allows the student to identify a four year academic plan, personality traits, and career pathways, as well as, build a resume that can constantly be managed online. Allows any staff member writing a letter of recommendation to access a student s information on their Jr/Sr conference worksheet. Allows any student to determine the probability of admission to a college through the use of scatter gram information. Students and their parents can log on to the Naviance website at anytime by going to the CTHS website, click on Resources, then Naviance. Or you can enter Parents are invited and encouraged to explore the website and work collaboratively with their son or daughter as they actively manage the information, especially throughout their junior and senior year. On Naviance, all seniors are REQUIRED to: Request official transcripts needed for college and/or scholarship applications. List the colleges they plan to apply for freshman admission. Manage their list of college applications by indicating with schools they have applied for admission, been waitlisted, for or declined admission. List scholarships they have applied for and received. Complete their Senior Surveys in May of their senior year. 20

20 On Naviance, all CTHS students will have the opportunity to: Research colleges of interest and available majors, courses of study available. Research and refine careers based on personality and interest inventories. Build their resume. Complete their Jr/Sr Conference Worksheet, a critical component to the Junior Conference meeting with the counselor. Which College is Right for You? Examining Your Own Preferences in Looking for a College Consider the academic strengths of the college The academic profile of a school outlines the recognized programs or majors that the college offers, and is known for. Students should consider programs they are interested in and areas of interest or college major as they narrow their search. The academic profile of a college is an excellent way to add or remove colleges from the student s application pool. Students who are unsure of a particular major or course of study should consider looking at a liberal arts college for a more generalized plan of study, or opting for Undeclared/Undecided as the major for a selected school of interest. Consider your own academic strengths and interests Do you meet the admission qualifications for the school? Colleges consider a student s GPA, and/or class rank, ACT/SAT Test scores, and the strength of the student s curriculum while in high school (rigor). This information is generally taken from the student s transcript. Consider the cost of attendance and financial aid In-state public colleges and universities are less expensive. Do not forget to apply for the College Opportunity Fund Grant (COF) to offset the cost of attendance even more. If a smaller college setting is more appealing, consider a small private school (in-state or out-ofstate). Schools of this caliber will sometimes discount their cost of attendance to attract particular demographic, academically and/or athletically talented students. Apply to both public and private institutions at varying cost levels, and be sure to send your FAFSA to each college early! (January) Schools that have a higher cost of attendance may offer more financial aid than a less expensive school. Be sure you are aware if the school requires the CSS Profile. Many private colleges require additional family income/assets information in order 21

21 to provide a fair financial aid package. (See for more information.) Consider the size of the college Do you want smaller classes and more of a community feel on campus, or a large university with a variety of class offerings and activities. Visiting and touring the college when classes are in session is of the utmost importance so you can determine whether or not it is a good fit for you. Virtual tours are another way to visit a campus if a visit is not possible. Consider location Do you want to attend school in a large city or a smaller college town? Do you want to stay in state or go out of the state for college? What type of climate do you enjoy? Do you mind travelling a long distance to get to and from your home? Consider the importance of athletics and activities Are you interested in participating in extra-curricular activities? Are you interested in playing a sport, whether it is competitive or intramural league? Are you interested in joining a fraternity or sorority? As you consider a variety of factors that work for you, use Naviance to begin your search for a best fit college or university. College Search link allows students to set parameters specific to wants and needs. This is a great way to identify colleges based on location, admission standards, majors, cost of attendance, etc. College Lookup allow students to research a college by name, state, or country. College Compare allows students to isolate their list of Colleges I am Interested In and compare sideby-side the admission standards of each college Consider Outside Internet Research Check the websites of your high interest schools for additional contacts and information. You may be able to: Look at specific programs and majors offered. Take a virtual tour to get a feel for the campus. Contact the Admissions Office directly to ask questions. 22

22 Sign up for s and information to be sent directly to you. Other Important Factors to Consider Public vs. Private Liberal or conservative viewpoints expressed on the campus. Is this important to you? Religious affiliation of the college Coed or single sex campuses and dormitories Admission to Highly Selective Colleges Previous pages of the CTHS College Planning Guide have stressed the importance of examining who you are, and the characteristics of the college when you are looking for the best fit. Additionally, if you are choosing to apply to a highly selective college or university, there may be additional factors you need to consider. Is it the right choice for you? Carefully examine the following information and be sure you can answer why you wish to apply to a highly selective school. Please bear in mind this information is not a guarantee that a student will be accepted to a highly selective college. As with all colleges, highly selective schools also use a variety of factors and this information is intended for use as a guide only. A competitive applicant to a highly selective school will have: A very strong GPA ( ). High ACT/SAT scores (ACT 32+; SAT I on each test). Taken the SAT II Subject Tests and received high scores ( on each test). A rigorous high school course selection (AP and IB coursework). Excellent letters of recommendation from teachers and counselor. The ability to demonstrate a passion for a sport or activity (both in and outside of school). Write excellent essays using their own words and voice, free of typos and grammatical errors. Applications completed and reviewed early with all supporting materials! It can be beneficial to: Have a special talent (art, music, entrepreneurship, leadership, unique hobbies, etc.). Have a passion for and strong commitment to one or two activities. 23

23 Have participated in athletics (school or club). Prepare a formal high school resume with your activities, awards and goals. Contact the admissions officer assigned to CTHS to let them know how interested you are in attending their institution, and to verify that your application materials have been received. Request an interview by a local alumni representative if it is required by the school, or even if it is not and you feel you have strong interpersonal skills and would interview well. Prepare for the interview! Visit the campus or attend local informational events, as well as any college fairs. Let the college know if you have alumni connections such as parents or grandparents who previously graduated from the school. Make connections with CTHS alumni who are currently attending the college. Ask them what was unique to their application and experience that made them stand out against other competitive applicants. Applying Early Action/Early Decision Some selective schools offer candidates the opportunity to apply for admission and receive a decision early. Typically students are asked to submit their application for admission and all supporting materials sometime in early November (November 1 or November 15). Candidates can then expect to receive a decision on their admission status usually by mid- December. There are two types of early applications: Early Action: The student submits their application and all supporting materials by the early action deadline. If admitted to the school, the student does not have to agree to withdraw other admission applications, and typically does not have to accept the college s admission offer until the spring. In other words, this is a non-binding and early offer of admission. Advantages to Early Action: A student can accept the early offer of admission and later rescind the acceptance if a more favorable offer is received. Applying Early Action to your top choice allows you to know early and ideally, receive a financial package to compare to other schools in order to make your final decision. Disadvantages to Early Action Do not apply Early Action unless you are a strong candidate for admission. Any blemishes on a transcript or low test scores may hinder you from being accepted early or in the Regular Decision pool. A Student Should Apply Early Action if they: Have solid ACT/SAT scores. 24

24 Have decided their list of top colleges. Are happy with their cumulative GPA at the end of the junior year. Have discussed the pros and cons of this option with their family and counselor. Early Decision: The student submits their application and all supporting materials by the Early Decision deadline (early Nov.). If accepted to the school, the student agrees to withdraw all other admission applications. This is a binding decision and means you are obligated to attend the college or university, typically regardless of financial aid. Who Should Apply Early Decision? A student who has decided on their top college choice, and if accepted, will attend regardless of financial aid. Advantages to Early Decision The application process is over early in the fall semester of your senior year because you have been admitted to your top choice and agreed to withdraw all other applications No More Stress! Colleges often admit a higher percentage of early decision applicants than their regular decision applicants which means you may have a statistical advantage in being admitted. Early Decision applicants need to be very strong candidates and meet all guidelines for admission. If you are not admitted early, some schools will put your application into the regular admissions pool for consideration in the spring, this means your application may be reconsidered at that time. Be careful because some schools will not allow you to apply again or be reconsidered during the regular admissions window do your research and know what your options are! Disadvantages to Early Decision No senior grades or additional ACT/SAT scores can be submitted for consideration, which could make your application stronger. If the college is your top choice and you are not granted admission via Early Decision, as well as not moved to the regular application pool, you may be very disappointed, and wish you had applied during the Regular Decision window. When you apply Early Decision and accept the offer of admission, you have agreed to attend without any offer or promise of financial aid from the college. You may be expected to pay the full cost of attendance! 25

25 The College Application Process I. What Colleges Look for in Applicants II. Filling out your College Application III. CTHS College Application Checklist IV. Requesting and Processing A Transcript and Supporting Materials a. Transcript/Scholarship Request Deadlines 26

26 What Colleges Look for in Candidates It is very difficult to pinpoint exactly what criteria the college admissions offices use when selecting their incoming freshman class. Criteria can change from year to year and vary from one college to the next. The criteria mentioned below are general, but colleges will readily admit that these factors are important. This list is by no means all inclusive of what a college is looking for and is meant to be used as a guide only. Grades in Core Academic Classes & Rigor of High School Coursework A student s quality and strength of curriculum taken while in high school can be the single most important record a college will use. Colleges are primarily interested in grades received in core academic subject areas. Students who select easy courses or non-academic courses in an attempt to earn more A s are defeating their purpose. Colleges can see through this tactic very easily. A student who received poor grades in academic core courses during high school may find that attending a junior or community college the first two years will assist in improving GPA and enable a student to transfer to a four year college to complete a bachelor s degree. A student who elects to take a challenging course of study while in high school (Honors, AP, and IB) will be considered a stronger candidate for admission to a college or university. In addition to choosing academically challenging courses, a student s GPA should show an upward trend, especially if the student had a weaker ninth and tenth grade year. College Entrance Exam Scores Either ACT or SAT scores are used as an important factor in the college admissions process. Check to see the average or median admitted freshman test score as a reference. SAT II Subject Tests may be required for admission to highly selective schools, and/or competitive majors. Review the college s admission requirements as to whether or not they require SAT II Subject Tests for admission. Essays/Writing Sample (If Required) A solid, well-written essay is a very important part of the admission application. Colleges want to see that you can write! (See the CTHS Counseling/Post Grad office for tips on writing a solid college application essay.) Teacher and Counselor Recommendation (If Required) Colleges want to hear thoughtful and useful information from adults at your school who know you and your capabilities. Interview (If Required) Some selective and highly selective colleges and universities may require interviews. Prepare for typical interview questions, and be able to speak about why you are interested in attending the particular college or university. See your 27

27 counselor if you have questions about a college interview. Special Talents, Interests, Skills Colleges may focus on one factor or another in order to attract a specific population of students they would like to have represented on their campus. These factors can change from year to year, and are difficult to predict. The key is being able to highlight on your application what special talents, interests, and/or skills you could bring to the particular college campus. Filling Out Your College Applications What is the Right Number of Colleges to Apply for Admission? Truthfully, there is no magic number but most students should consider applying to 3-5 colleges, they would consider attending after high school. At least one or two should be foundation schools. A foundation school is defined as a school for which the applicant meets all the admission requirements, would attend if admitted, and is somewhat sure that admission will be granted. A student may also choose to apply to one or two reach schools. A reach school is a school that either admits a low number of freshmen applicants (aka- selective/highly selective), or a school for which the applicant may not meet all of the admission requirements. Bear in mind reach can also be financial and geographical as well. Some students choose a broader approach and apply to more than five institutions. The idea being that this will increase the number of acceptance offers. This can be true; however, it is a costly and time-consuming approach with no guarantee of success! Remember, your application is the primary tool by which you will be judged for admission. Therefore, the importance of your application should never be underestimated. Consider the following prior to submitting your application: Apply Early - Many CTHS alum have said Tell next year s class to apply EARLY! Applications that are rushed because of impending deadlines may reflect lack of care and contain errors. Colleges will tell you they are much more impressed by applications received a month early, as opposed to those arriving the day before the deadline. Deadlines are set to eliminate candidates. Consider applying Early Action or Early Decision to highly selective colleges. (See previous section on Early Action /Early Decision) Apply Online Many colleges encourage applicants to apply online. If you do, be sure to request from the CTHS Counseling/Post Grad office the necessary supporting documents that will need to be mailed to the admission office (test scores, transcripts, etc.). Always keep a printed copy of the completed application for your files. Be Neat Messy applications that are written by hand and difficult to read will not receive equal consideration! Be Thorough & Complete An incomplete application tells a great deal about the applicant. Always indicate Not Applicable or N/A rather than leaving a question blank. Be Honest Never falsify information about yourself. Extra Curricular Activities Do not minimize or exaggerate your involvement and level of interest in your hobbies and/or activities. 28

28 Prepare Your Application Yourself Always have someone review your application but remember; only you can prepare your application in the most authentic way. The Essay See the CTHS Counseling/Post Grad office for tips on writing your college application essay. The essay is an opportunity to influence directly the admission committee s perception of the applicant. As you write your essay, keep in mind the following: Follow directions carefully. Do what is asked one or two pages? Handwritten or typed? Specific or general topic? If filling out an essay question on an online application, write (and re-write) your response on a separate word document, check spelling and grammar. After you have saved your document, then cut and paste your essay onto your application if applicable. Always pay attention to your writing style, format, and spelling. Consult your English teacher for their input. Ask yourself the following questions: Am I being open and honest? Is this essay interesting and does it answer the question? Give the admission committee a reason to admit you. Application Recommendations Recommendations should come from those teachers who know the student best. Colleges generally require no more than two teacher recommendations, plus a school recommendation (written by the school counselor). Additional recommendations are seldom helpful and may mark an applicant as one who does not follow directions. Teacher & Counselor Recommendations Always be mindful of deadlines and peak application times. Allow teachers and your counselor 2-3 weeks to complete your recommendation, as it is likely they are working on recommendations for many students. If you are mailing your application, letters of recommendation should be returned to you in a sealed envelope with a signature from the author across the flap. Always remember to complete a bright green Request for Recommendation form when asking for a recommendation from a teacher or a counselor, even if the college s the request directly to them. Teachers and your counselor need the Request for Recommendation form, and accompanying information from you directly in order to keep track of all recommendation requests. 29

29 CTHS College Application Checklist Important Advice START EARLY! Remember that it may take you up to 4 weeks to assemble and request all supporting materials in order to complete your application. It is recommended that you review your application with your counselor. Allow 1-2 weeks for your counselor to review, especially during peak times. Colleges prefer online applications. When you are filling out an online application, always print and save a copy for your files. When planning your deadlines always work backwards a minimum of four weeks from the college application deadline in order to leave enough time to request and process your supporting materials. Be mindful of school vacations (Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Winter Break) as the Counseling/Post Grad office is closed during these times and will not be able to process and send the materials you will need. Plan ahead! Note the application fees for each college you will apply for admission. Does the school require you to pay online using a credit card, or do you need to mail your payment after you apply online? If an essay is required, begin writing a rough draft in early fall of your senior year. Allow enough time to write several drafts and consult with your English teacher. Always type your essay and be sure to edit for spelling and grammar errors. If a letter of recommendation is required from any CTHS faculty, be sure to allow enough time for writing and processing (2-3 weeks). Prior to applying, update your Colleges I am Applying to list on Naviance. You will need to record your requests for transcripts both online and in the Counseling/Post Grad office. Be sure to send any ACT and/or SAT scores to the colleges you are applying to when you sign up to take the test. Remember, when signing up for the test you have the option to list up to four schools to receive your scores without paying a fee. If you list more than four schools, or make any changes after you take the exams, you will need to log onto (ACT) or (SAT) and pay a fee per report, per school. Additionally, do not forget to order any AP score reports for May AP exams. The Counseling/Post Grad office will not forward AP scores to your college after graduation. o ACT (319) o SAT & SAT Subject Tests (800) AP (609) After you have moved your colleges to Colleges I am Applying to and indicated you are requesting transcripts on Naviance, you will need to come to the Counseling/Post Grad office and fill out a Request for Official 30

30 Transcript form in the office. At that time, you will indicate what supporting materials need to be included in your application packet. The following items are supporting materials that may be included in an application packet if applicable: o o o o o Paper application Application fee Official transcript ($5 per official transcript) Essays Letters of Recommendation ***REMINDER: Any supporting materials for your application including but not limited to, official transcripts and/or letters of recommendation, will be mailed by the CTHS Counseling/Post Grad office in one packet (per college). Please bring any sealed letters of recommendation to the Counseling/Post Grad office when requesting an official transcript, unless your teacher and/or counselor are sending them electronically. 31

31 Requesting and Processing an Official Transcript At Cherokee Trail, requesting transcripts for college and/or scholarship applications is a two-step process. All students must first request an official transcript through Naviance for all college(s) and scholarship(s) AFTER filling out the application(s). Log onto your Naviance Family Connection homepage at Click on the Colleges I am Applying to link under the Colleges tab. The list of colleges you have added to this tab will appear. Check the box to the left to indicate which colleges you are requesting an official transcript. Click on the command above the application list, which reads Request Transcript. The Counseling/Post Grad office will now receive your transcript request electronically. NOTE: You still need to come to the office and fill out a Transcript Request form to indicate which supporting materials, if any, you will need sent along with your official transcript. Processing Your Transcript and Supporting Materials In order for your transcript request to be processed, you must then go to the Counseling/Post Grad office and pay $5.00 for each official transcript requested. Be sure to have addresses and contact information for where you would like the information to be sent. An official transcript needs to be sent to each college and in most cases the scholarship foundation, to which you are applying. Some colleges will also require that you send a Mid-Year report, or 7th semester transcript, upon completion of the first semester of your senior year. Please research whether you will need CTHS to submit a 7th semester transcript and/or a Mid-Year report prior to requesting an official transcript to be sent. An 8th semester or final, official transcript will be submitted to the college you will be attending after high school graduation. You will indicate this information when you pick up your senior check-out sheet. IMPORTANT Reminder: Colleges have been known to send s or a letter to you indicating they have not received supporting materials to your application (transcript, letters or recommendation, etc.). Prior to coming to the Counseling/Post Grad office to inquire, log onto Naviance to check when your transcript was sent. If your transcript has been processed and mailed, the date it was sent is recorded on Naviance by the Counseling/Post Grad office. Please allow up to 4-6 weeks (and even longer during peak times) for the college to join your official transcript and supporting materials with your admission application. 32

32 *Transcript/Scholarship Request Deadlines For the School Year If College/Scholarship deadline is: Materials/College Forms due to Post Grad: November 1...October 15 November 15 November 5 December 1...November 19 December 15 December 3 January 1...December 10 January 15...January 7 February 1..January 23 February 15...February 4 March 1...February 20 March 15...March 4 April 1...March 18 April 15 April 8 May 1...April 22 May 15.May 6 June 1..May 20 *Failure to follow the above deadlines means that the CTHS Counseling/Post Grad office will not guarantee that your transcript and all supporting materials will reach the college and/or scholarship by their application deadline. 33

33 FINANCING YOUR EDUCATION I. Financial Aid- An Overview - Sources of Financial Aid - Categories of Financial Aid - Award Letters- Types of Aid which will be listed - Grants and Loans- The Different Types - The College in Colorado Voucher - Deciphering the Award Letter from the College- Terms used in the Award Letter - Fin Aid Beyond the First Year - What will happen if the Award is not enough? II. The FAFSA - Who, What, When, Where and Why of the FAFSA - Pre- Application worksheet and the FAFSA online - How the FAFSA is Processed - Flow Chart on how the FAFASA is processed - Financial Aid Award Letters III. Scholarships - Beginning your search - Large, Local Scholarships IV. The Financial Aid Checklist 34

34 Financial Aid- An Overview Types of Financial Aid Financial aid is perhaps the most important factor in making a decision about college attendance since raising costs may place some institutions out of reach for interested students. If you feel that you may be eligible for any forms of financial aid, it is critical that you follow the procedures of each school very closely. Because of the increase in the need for financial aid, some schools have less aid to offer, and failing to meet a deadline or file the proper forms could jeopardize your eligibility for assistance. Even if you think that you will not be eligible, apply. Even qualifying for a low interest student loan requires students to go through the financial aid process and fill out the FAFSA. Sources if Financial Aid Access to grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans comes from a variety of sources and may require separate applications. The following are different sources (agencies) which award money: State Governments- guaranteed tuition grants are awarded to first-time freshman students who apply. Federal Government- money is largely accessed through the FAFSA application. College and Universities- contact the financial aid office of the school you will be attending to determine eligibility for scholarships or university-based grants. Private Sources- community organizations, national or local companies which may offer scholarships to graduating seniors Categories of Financial Aid Below are the general categories of financial aid available to students. Grants- money toward college expenses which does not have to be repaid. Typically based on family financial need. Loans- money toward college expenses which has to be repaid after graduation. Typically low interest loans, which can be taken out by the student or parent. Work-Study- jobs that allow you to earn a portion of your college costs while you are enrolled. Work-study placements are designated through the financial aid office for students who are deemed eligible through the FAFSA. College-In-Colorado Voucher from the state of Colorado for first-time freshman attending Colorado post-grad institutions. Students must register online in advance of attending college at You must have a social security number to register. 35

35 Award Letters Award Letters issued from the college tell you exactly how much financial support the college is able to provide to you in the upcoming year. As listed above, there are four general categories of financial aid, which may be offered and listed in your award letter from the college. Below is a listing of the categories and specific names of the awards, which may appear in your award letter. Grants - Money that does not have to be repaid. Federal Pell Grant Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) National SMART Grant Institutional Grants ( issued by the college) State-Sponsored Grants Work-Study - Money earned by working. On- Campus (assigned job somewhere on campus, the most common type of work-study offered.) Off Campus (working off-campus at a private non- profit or public agency, not a very common type of work- study.) Scholarships - Money that does not have to be repaid. Scholarships may be awarded by the college through a single scholarship application or students that apply for scholarship money through private organizations. Any scholarship that you inform the college about or scholarships awarded by the college will be listed in your award letters. Loan - Money that is borrowed and must be repaid. Federal Stafford Loan (Subsidized) Federal Stafford Loan (Unsubsidized) Federal Parent PLUS loan Federal Perkins Loan State of Colorado Loan Programs (see for info on the FFELP) Private Loan Programs 36

36 Grant and Loans Grants - Typically, grants are awarded to the neediest families, but increasingly grants are awarded to students choosing to go into a specific career field, or based on a student s academic merit in high school and/or potential to perform well in college. Below are some of the largest federal grants currently available to students. For more information, log onto Pell Grant - This is a federal grant awarded to the neediest families. After the FAFSA submit in the early spring and the EFC (Expected Family Contribution) is calculated, the federal government determines whether the student will receive a Pell Grant. This is based primarily on family finances and the projected COA (cost of attendance) for the student. The maximum amount is approximately $5,400 per year. Both full and parttime students are eligible if they have not yet earned a bachelor s degree, are US citizens, and have earned a high school diploma or GED. Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant - The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is for undergraduate students with exceptional need. Students are eligible for the Pell Grant and those with the lowest EFC s will be the first to be considered for the FSEOG. Awardees will receive between $100 and $4,000 a year depending on your financial need, when you submit your FAFSA, and the funding of the college attendance. Academic Competitiveness Grant - For Students who are Pell Grant eligible, the Academic Competitiveness Grant may also be awarded to students who have completed a rigorous secondary school program of study as defined by the state Colorado. The ACG provides $750 for the first year of undergraduate study and up to $1,300 for the second year. Eligible students must be U.S citizens, enrolled in a full-time college degree program, and fill out the FAFSA. In order to receive the grant in the second year of college, students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA. SMART Grant - The National Science and Math Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART Grant) provides up to $ 4,000 during the third and fourth years of undergraduate study for full-time students who are majoring in physical science, life science, computer science, mathematics, technology-related majors, engineering, or foreign language determined critical to national security. The student must be Pell Grant eligible, enrolled in the necessary major, and maintain a GPA to receive the grant. TEACH Grant - The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant Program (TEACH Grant) provides grant money up to $4,000 per year to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary schools that serve students from low-income families. To be eligible, students must fill out the FAFSA (although you do not need to demonstrate financial need),be a U.S citizen, maintain a GPA of 3.35, and sign a TEACH agreement to serve. Currently students are required to teach in the following high- need fields upon graduating from college: math, science, special education, bilingual education, foreign language, or reading specialist. Loans Because only a small percentage of students receive grants to fund their college education, most students and families will need to take out loans to fund the majority of college costs. Below is general information on terms used and types of loans. Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan - Formerly known as the Guaranteed Student Loan, the (subsidized) Federal Stafford Loan is extended from a lending institution under the guarantees of the federal government. The government takes on the responsibility for paying the interest on the loan to the lender and assumes 37

37 responsibility if the student defaults on repayment of the loan. Subsidized refers to the fact that the government subsidizes or pays the interest and management fees on the loan while student is in college. Repayment typically begins six months after the student graduates from college. Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan - Similar to the above-mentioned loan, but unsubsidized Stafford loans are not guaranteed by the federal government. Any student can take out an unsubsidized Stafford loan because it is not based on financial need. The borrower is responsible for paying all the interest on the loan as soon as it is payable-from the time the loan is dispersed to the time the loan is paid in full. The recipient of the loan is responsible for the complete balance of the loan should fall into default. Again, repayment on the loan typically begins by the student six months after graduation from college. Stafford loan applications are available through a variety of sources. Most government websites will have a link to the federal Stafford loan application; college financial aid officers will have Stafford loan applications, as well as banking institutions. The per year maximum amount of the Stafford Loans awarded to dependant students is $5,500 for freshman increasing to $7,500 for juniors and seniors. Perkins Loan - The Federal Perkins Loan Program provides low-interest loans to students based on financialneed. In order to be eligible, students must fill out the FAFSA and plan to attend a participating Perkins college or university. Award amounts vary and depend on how much/whether the college has collected on previous Perkins loans. Students undertaking certain public, military, or teaching employment after college may have all or part of their Perkins loan canceled (meaning the student does not have to repay it) and the loan amount is forgiven. Parent Loan for Undergraduate students (PLUS loan) - The Plus loan is a low interest loan for parents (or grandparents and legal guardians) which offers flexible payment plan. The PLUS loan is not based on family financial need, but rather the parent s good credit record. Repayment of the loan begins 2-3 months after the loan has been dispersed. Sometimes parents will supplement the PLUS loan with the students Stafford loan or other financial aid in order to make tuition costs more affordable. Private Student Loans - Many students and parents find the cost of college attendance slightly out of reach, even with the receipt of some grants, scholarships, and Stafford or Perkins loans. Some parents or students may choose to take out additional loan money in the form of private student loans from banking institutions to afford the costs associated with college attendance. These loans are based on the lenders credit history and tend to be higher in interest than the Stafford, Perkins, or PLUS loans. Typically, this is a more costly alternative. College in Colorado Voucher - Currently, all first-time Colorado college freshman are eligible an approximate $ 2,000 ($68 per credit hour) voucher from the State of Colorado to offset their college tuition. Eligibility for this voucher is not based on financial need or academic merit, but rather is open to all first-time college freshman who are graduates of Colorado high school, are Colorado residents, and plan to attend a two or four year Colorado post-graduate institution. Students that attend a private participating university receive half the amount per credit hour. In order to apply, students will need their social security number, and to register on the State of Colorado s official website which is Students can register anytime during their high school career. This website s link can be found on the CTHS Naviance home page, and the majority of Cherokee Trail juniors have already registered for the College in Colorado voucher. Students who have not applied prior to attending their fall semester in college, however, will not be able to access the voucher. 38

38 Deciphering the Award Letter from the College Financial Aid Office Be sure to read your award letter carefully and make sure that you understand all the terms and conditions of the financial aid offered. Often there is a short explanation below the listing of the awards and directions on how to proceed with accepting the listed types of financial aid offered. If a loan(s) is offered, you may need to complete paperwork enclosed (promissory note) or go onto the schools financial aid website in order to complete your acceptance of the specific types of financial aid. (See Financial Aid Award Notice/Letter in this guide as an example). Often the largest amount offered to a student or family will be in loans, and the smallest award offered in grant money. Terms in the Award letter Credit (or Credit Hour): Units of measurement institutions give for fulfilling course requirements. Maintaining full-time status. Cost of Attendance (COA): All cost associated with attending college: tuition and associated fees, room and board, books and supplies. Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount students and their family are expected to contribute toward their cost of attendance. Students can also contribute to the EFC amount in a variety of ways: parttime jobs on or off campus, summer jobs, additional loans, and/or scholarships. Out-of-State Student (Non-Resident): Generally applies to students attending public university. Out-ofstate students must pay a higher tuition rate until they have established legal residency for that state. Rolling Admissions: There is no set admissions deadline date; qualified students use accepted for admission until classes are filled. However, it is recommended that students apply early to rolling admission schools. Undergraduate Student: A student who has not completed a baccalaureate or first professional degree. Financial Aid-Beyond the First Year of College Determine if the grants and scholarships are available for more than one year (renewable). If they are renewable, be sure to understand the conditions that apply in order to keep them. Do you need to maintain a certain GPA? Do you need to reapply by a certain date? Is the scholarship attached to a specific college major? Will you have the opportunity to apply for other college- based scholarships in your sophomore, junior and senior years? Remember, unless stated otherwise the financial aid offerings listed in the award letter are only for the first year. Comparing Financial Aid Packages Colleges typically send out their financial aid award letters in March and early April. The financial aid offered from one college may vary greatly from the financial aid offered at another school, and may depend on the size of the college, the number of applications received that year, the student s academic strength, the family s financial need, the size of the college endowments, and when the FAFSA was received by the college as well as a host of other reasons. Students are advised to wait and compare financial aid packages before making a final decision on where to attend college. 39

39 What if the Financial Aid Award is not Enough? If after receiving your financial aid award letter, you feel that the financial aid will not be enough to cover your educational expenses, there may be some additional options to pursue so you indeed can attend your top choice school. Apply, Apply, Apply for Private Scholarships- Log onto the free scholarship search sites and get busy applying for scholarships that are still available. (A list of best scholarship search engines can be found in this guide.) Call the College s Financial Aid Office- Ask to speak to a financial aid advisor. Are there any additional scholarships to apply for or which you can be considered? Are there any scholarships available for students in your major? If you were not offered work-study as part of your award package, can you apply for non need-based work-study? Can you take out additional unsubsidized Stafford Loan if the loan offered is not at the maximum of $3,500 per year offered to college freshman? Also verify that any special circumstances you may have were considered when the financial aid package was drafted. Tuition Payment Plan: Call the Office of the Registrar or Admissions at the college to determine whether the tuition payment plan over the nine or twelve-month period can be set up to make tuition payment more manageable for the family. Consider other Loan Programs: Your personal bank may be able to offer you educational loans; home equity loans, or consolidate loans to cover educational expenses or manage expenses. Need additional information on financial aid? The U.S Department of Education offers a comprehensive guide on financial aid at THE FAFSA To apply for federal financial aid (grants, loans, and work-study), complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). An electronic version is available on the internet at Currently the federal government is phasing out the paper application, so families may find it difficult to find a paper copy. If completed electronically, families must establish a PIN to sign the form electronically. Upon completion, print a copy out for your records. The FAFSA should be mailed as soon after January 1 st as possible for primary consideration because funds are awarded first-come, first-served for families in need typically beginning in early March. In order to file you FAFSA in January, families will have to use their tax information from the prior year, and may have to adjust their FAFSA figures if requested after their Who, What, When, and Why of the FAFSA Who should fill out the FAFSA? All students and their families should fill out the FAFSA, whether or not they feel they will be eligible for any financial award. Most financial aid offices of colleges and universities currently will require that a student has completed a FAFSA form on file in the financial aid office in order to access any college-based funds. 40

40 What exactly is the FAFSA? Because most financial aid is based on a student s need, it is necessary for the federal government to have a form that determines how much a family can contribute to their son/daughter s education. The FAFSA considers a family s income and assets, the number of dependents in college in the household, and other family factors as part of their formula for determining the EFC (Expected Family Contribution). When to Fill Out the FAFSA? The revised FAFSA form is available online beginning on January 1 st, and should be completed as soon as possible after the beginning of the calendar year. Since funds are limited at many schools, early submission of the FAFSA maximizes your chances of receiving aid. Remember to keep copies of all submitted documents. Where You Can Find the FAFSA Form? Complete the FAFSA on the web at Paper applications are no longer available Call FED-AID ( ) for questions and assistance. The FAFSA Pre-Application Worksheet, and Completing the FAFSA Online. It is recommended that families log onto to preview and fill out the pre-application FAFSA worksheet in November or December. Becoming familiar with the types of information needed on the FAFSA can be very helpful before submitting the FAFSA to the federal government in January. How do I fill out the FAFSA? Visit and click Before Beginning a FAFSA to get started. If you want a paper copy to use as a guide, use the pre-application worksheet, not a paper FAFSA. To download a copy, click Print a Pre-Application Worksheet. Do I need a PIN? To fill out the FAFSA online, parents and students must both register for a PIN number at It will take 2-3 days to receive your new PIN number via . Parents of dependent children need a separate PIN in order to sign electronically the FAFSA upon completion. Can I save my FAFSA on the Web? Yes, to do so, you must remember the PIN/password that you entered at the beginning of your application. If you forget it, you cannot look it up. You will have to start your FAFSA over again. To save your FAFSA application online, click the Save button on the bottom of each step. Your information will be saved for 45 days. When you are finished, print a completed FAFSA for your records. Click Print before you click the Submit button at the end of the FAFSA. 41

41 What are the benefits of FAFSA on the Web? By completing the FAFSA on the Web, a student or parent can: Allow the federal processor to do a final check of the information and alert you of any mistakes. Speed up the FAFSA process. Receive the SAR (Student Aid Report) in 1-2 weeks (or 4-5 days if you include an address) vs. 4-6 weeks if you fill out the paper version. How is the FAFSA processed? Filling out the FAFSA will determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), or the amount of money a student s family can be expected to contribute to the yearly college costs. The college will then try to meet a student s needs through a financial aid award package made up of grants, student employment (work study) and loans, which can come from federal, state, school or private sources. Review you Student Aid Report (SAR) carefully. The SAR is proof that your FAFSA was received. When should I receive my SAR? You should receive your Student Aid Report one or two weeks after filing electronically, or 4-6 weeks after filing the paper version of the FAFSA. What does this asterisk m (*) mean? If an asterisk appears next to your EFC in your SAR, your SAR has been selected for verification. (Approximately 25% of SARs are selected). Your college has to verify your financial status. If asked, submit the information requested to your prospective college s financial aid office ASAP, or your aid may be delayed. How much financial aid can I expect? The types of financial aid, which do not need to be repaid (i.e. grants and scholarships), are often given to only the neediest families. Therefore, students not receiving significant aid may need to make college more affordable by working part-time on or off campus, working full-time during summer months, or exploring tuition payment programs through the campus financial aid office. Will the COF (Colorado Opportunity Fund) be reflected on my SAR as financial aid?) The Colorado Opportunity Fund tuition voucher, which students can register for at is nonneed based, financial aid issued by the state of Colorado for Colorado high school graduates who will be attending an in-state two or four year college, or vocational institution. The tuition voucher is approximate $2,000 per year and is meant to offset tuition costs. The college will ask students to authorize the use of their previously registered for voucher when they are asked to pay for their tuition in late spring/summer. The approximate $2,000 deduction will not, typically be reflected as a reduction on the SAR after the government s processing of the FAFSA since it is a state reduction but will reflected on the Colorado college s request for payment. 42

42 FAFSA Flow Chart The following flow chart outlines the steps of a student s FAFSA form; from completion and submission of the FAFSA, to the receipt of the student s tuition bill from the college. Student & Parent apply for Fill out FAFSA and submit by January 1 (yearly) Beginning on October 1 of senior year: Fill out the CSS Profile at only if the college requires this information. See your counselor or the college website if you have questions. The government in days processes an electronic FAFSA. A paper copy is sent if no is provided. Copy of SAR sent via . Check SAR and make any corrections if tax estimates used. Call FED- AID if SAR is not received. SAR/FAFSA info sent to the college s financial aid office for processing of award. A Financial Award letter outlines types and amounts of financial aid the college is offering the student (typically sent after March 1). Review and respond to the types of aid being offered. Follow all directions and deadlines. If a loan is being offered, usually a promissory note will be enclosed or ed to the student and/or parent. A college may request additional family information. Do Not Forget: The Colorado Opportunity Fund (COF) credit of approx $2300-$2400 reflected in your tuition bill. Accepted financial aid funds are credited to the student s account. The student receives a tuition bill with the COF deducted, if student is attending a college in Colorado. Students and Parents should compare all financial aid packages received from different colleges. Families should investigate all avenues if needed: tuition payment plans, and/or additional scholarship money. Be sure to contact the college s financial aid office for additional help and/or information. 43

43 Scholarships Beginning Your Search for Scholarships Initial General Search- Students may begin looking for applicable scholarships in their junior year or the beginning of their senior year, in order to identify which scholarships they may want to apply for in their senior year. Because most scholarships are for the upcoming academic year, most students will not be able to apply for scholarships for their freshman year in college until the fall of their senior year. During their initial search, students may want to: Search for scholarships using the websites listed Post- Grad Internet Resources section of this Guide. These websites will take you directly to either scholarship applications or to free sites which allow you to put in your personal information in order to match you with appropriate scholarships. Remember the competition for these national scholarships will be stiffer, but the award amounts may be greater. Putting personal specific factors such as ethnicity, religious affiliation, club membership, future college major, place of residence into the scholarship search engine, for example, may yield a more personal scholarship list. This is a very time-consuming process, but can pay off! Look at the Cherokee Trail Scholarship Newsletter Most of the scholarships listed in the Naviance scholarship newsletter have a website where more information and an application can be downloaded. The scholarships listed are both local and national. The scholarship search link on Naviance will direct you to collective, free, online scholarship search websites. Consult the scholarship bank of local and national scholarship applications received in the CTHS counseling office. The paper application, if received, for each of the listed scholarships in the Cherokee Trail scholarship Newsletter, is cataloged in the scholarship binders in the CTHS counseling office. If you are a scholar-athlete Students wanting to play Division I or Division II athletics at the collegiate level, should review the academic requirements listed on the NCAA website Athletes who want to play Division I or Division II sports must have a minimum GPA in a specified number and type of core academic courses that meet minimum ACT or SAT score to be eligible. Students who will be attending junior colleges may be eligible for athletic scholarships through NAIA, at Students should consult these websites in their junior year or early senior year in order to review qualifications and register for eligibility and possible recruitment. After being accepted to a specific college: Consult the Financial Aid link on the college s website. Do they have one application for all of their collegebased scholarships? Alternatively, are you automatically eligible for scholarships upon admission to the college? Often scholarships based on student merit, student talents, financial need, and personal characteristics will be listed on each school s website through a financial aid link. Note the qualifications necessary and the deadlines, applying for any scholarships you deem appropriate. Some may be renewable for each of the years that you attend the college and maintain the scholarship standards listed. 44

44 Make an appointment with a counselor in the Financial Aid Office of the college you will be attending in late March or early April, especially if the financial aid package received is not adequate. The financial aid counselor may be able to direct you further to additional scholarship monies through the university. In addition, if you have filled out a FAFSA form and received a SAR award letter in the mail, the financial aid counselor will be able to interpret and may be able to arrange for funds to be allocated for your specific college expenses or work-study. It is highly recommended that you meet with a financial aid counselor if you are receiving any grants, work-study money, or college- based scholarships. Large Local Scholarships The Boettcher Scholarship The Boettcher Scholarship is the most prestigious, merit-based scholarship available to high school seniors in the state of Colorado. Candidates must be Colorado residents, ranked in the top 5% of their graduating class, score a 27 or higher on their ACTs, or a 1200 or higher on their SAT math and English reasoning sections combined. The scholarship covers the full tuition and fees, with a living stipend, book allowance, and enrichment grants. Deadline for application is November 1; more information can be found at Their counselor nominates candidates. The Governors Opportunity Scholarship (GOS) The GOS program offers up to 1,000 scholarships to Colorado high school seniors with family incomes of $26,000 or below. Students accepted to the GOS program will be a offered a scholarship of $6,000 minimally, and a work study award with the final amounts based on the cost of attendance at the student s chosen school. Eligible students should fill out the FAFSA, and have an expected family contribution of $0. This scholarship is renewable. More information can be found through the Pre-Collegiate Programs and Outreach at the Colorado Commission on Higher Education s website and through The Daniels College Prep and Scholarship Program (DCPSP) The goal of the DCPSP is to provide assistance to promising students who may not otherwise be prepared for or have the opportunity to attend college because demonstrated financial need. Daniels Fund Scholarships are applied to any unmet need after all federal, state, institutional and private scholarships have been applied to cover all remaining tuition and fees, books and supplies at a student s college of attendance nationwide. Recommendations to apply are done through a sponsoring agency or your counselor. For more information contact or College in Colorado Scholarship Students who have met the CCHE higher admissions standards listed previously in this guide, have maintained a 2.5 GPA in high school, and have qualified for a Pell grant by completing the FAFSA may be eligible for the College in Colorado Scholarship funded by College Invest. Students must sign up for the scholarship in 8 th or 9 th grade. For more information, visit or call It s not a Scholarship, but don t forget the College Opportunity Fund! All students should verify that they have registered for the state tuition voucher for every first-time college freshman. Students must be a Colorado resident and plan to attend a 2 or 4- year Colorado college, university or community college. The tuition voucher is not based on family financial need. The tuition voucher amount will vary from year to year. The current grant is approximately $2,000 per year. Students can register at 45

45 FINANCIAL AID CHECKLIST What to do and When to do it! Ask for information about financial aid opportunities and application procedures when contacting the Admissions Office of each college on your list. Make certain you know what forms need to be completed and obtain them. The CSS Profile and the FAFSA are the most common, but schools may have their own form(s) for separate scholarships. Frequently there will be a separate scholarship application to access all the college s scholarships through the college s financial link on their web page. Sometimes the admission application is automatically forwarded to the college s financial aid office for financial aid consideration when the student accepts admission. This is an important detail to clarify! Mail/Submit your completed forms as possible to be processed. (Most colleges begin processing and offering financial aid packages to admitted students around March 1, therefore it is wise to send in your FAFSA in January early February.) Carefully follow the instructions for filling out the FAFSA and check for errors in computations. Completing the forms on line will expedite the process and in some cases help you avoid making common mistakes. Apply for the Pell Grant by answering the appropriate question on the FFSA form. There is no extra fee for this service. Review the acknowledgement (SAR) you receive after submitting the forms to check for errors. If you find errors, make sure you report them immediately. Reprocessing takes another 2 to 3 weeks. Respond promptly, if requested, to any request for additional or incomplete information on the FAFSA form so there will be no further delay in processing your request. Complete the other necessary forms required by your college as early as possible and return them to the college. Make sure to send copies of your tax forms if required to do so. Check the information about other private aid sources. Your guidance counselor, local library, or banks will often have this information. You may qualify for private scholarships, grants, or loan programs based upon your academic achievement, religious affiliation, ethnic or racial background, community activities, hobbies or special interests, organizational memberships, artistic talents, athletic abilities, career plans, proposed field of study, or other special skills. Leave no stone unturned (See Internet Sources in the next section.) Find out if your parents employers, professional associations, or labor unions sponsor any aid programs. Check with local community organizations including civic cultural, religious, veterans, and fraternal groups to see if they sponsor scholarship programs at the local, state, or national levels. Also include organizations connected with your field of interest. If your parents are disabled veteran or if they were casualty of war, you may be eligible for special assistance. Contact the Veterans Administration for further information. Ask about benefits from vocation rehabilitation or other social services if you think you may be eligible for assistance. 46

46 Determine how payments from each source will be made to you. Sometimes payment will be made to you at the time you enroll, or it may be deferred until you successfully complete your first semester. This will be important when it comes to pay the bill. Pay very close attention to all award letters and follow any directions so you can be certain of getting your aid. When you have made your decision about which colleges to attend, let the other school s admissions and financial aid offices know so they may use that aid for other qualified individuals. If the college of your choice cannot provide you with enough aid to meet your needs, look into other alternatives such as loans. Upon arrival at school, check with the Financial Aid Office to make sure that all your paper work is in order. Inquire about work-study programs, positions on-campus, how to apply, and which departments are hiring. Then contact the department to set up an interview. Contact the Financial Aid Office immediately if your family circumstances change. 47

47 Appendix I. Online College Resources II. Glossary of Terms 48

48 49

49 50

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