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The College Application Check List

Are You Organized and Prepared To Get Into The College of Your Dreams?

Having a list of important tasks to complete for each college application will make the application process go smoothly and help you meet deadlines. 

PLAN: To fill in all the blanks on the application form itself, you may have to dig up documents or get answers from your parents or guardians. Most students use online applications, but paper applications are usually available too. There are also services that let you complete one application online and submit it to several colleges like the Coalition Application, Common Application, and Universal College Application.

GRADES: The record of the classes you’ve taken and your grades are important parts of your application. Your high school should send your transcript, along with a school profile, directly to the colleges you’re applying to. Ask your school counselor or principal how to arrange for this. And be sure to check the transcript for errors before it’s sent.

TEST SCORES: Most colleges require or recommend that you send scores from tests such as the SAT®. Colleges accept scores only from the testing organizations themselves.

RECOMMENDATION LETTERS: Many colleges require letters of recommendation from teachers or other adults who know you well. Ask your references well in advance of the deadlines to write you a recommendation. You may want to give them a short written summary of your achievements to help them write about you.

ESSAYS: Your essays are a chance for you to give admission officers a better idea of your character and strengths. Remember to proofread your essays carefully before you send them in.

APPLICATIONS: Applying to college is a big job, but you can make it easier by breaking it down into a series of small steps. 

  • Complete college applications
  • Use the exact name on all forms
  • Carefully review the entire application
  • Have a family member or teacher review the application for you

INTERVIEWS: It’s a good idea to ask for an interview, even if it’s not required. It shows you’re serious and gives you a chance to connect with someone in the admission office. Even if a college is far away, you may be able to interview with a local alumnus.

SEND & TRACK YOUR APPLICATION: Once you’ve completed your application, follow these tips to make sure all the parts get to where they’re going. 

  • Make copies of all application materials
  • Apply online
  • Include application fee
  • Sign application
  • Confirm receipt of application materials
  • Send supplemental material, if needed
  • Mail your institutional aid form, if needed Mail state aid form, if needed

FINANCIAL AID: College is usually more affordable than many families think, thanks to financial aid. Below are key steps to navigating the financial aid process:

  • Make a note of priority financial aid deadline
  • Make a note of regular financial aid deadline Submit FAFSA (Opens October1)*
  • Submit CSS ProfileTM, if needed (Opens October 1)
  • Submit college aid form, if needed

DECISION:  You’ve received several college admission offers. Now comes the hard part: Which one do you choose? Find out how to make the best decision for you.

  • Receive admission letter and financial aid award letter
  • Get more information about each college, ask questions about student resources and services
  • Compare college features and things you want
  • Compare financial aid awards side by side
  • Make a decision and respond to college you’re attending
  • Respond to colleges whose offers you’re declining 
  • Send deposit and final high school transcript



Learn More About IFW’s College Savings & Planning Services

Discover the secret to paying less for college and get all the facts you need to make the most informed decisions when it comes to college costs.

  • Learn proven strategies on how to lower college tuition fees
  • Navigate the admission and application process
  • Find potential aid and scholarships that may be available
  • Make sure you never overpay for college.

Plus, every College Savings Solutions participant receives a free My Tuition Score Report – a unique and comprehensive preparation tool for the college process.


The IFW provides valuable financial education, resources, and services that help people live their best life. 

Please remember, be mindful of the messenger that positions certain products or services as “always” bad or “always” perfect.  The fact of the matter is there are no “bad products” or “perfect products”.   The right product is the one that aligns with your goals and objectives. 

The Institute of Financial Wellness believes when it comes to financial decisions; never say “Never” never say “Always”…It Depends.

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