Start planning for college

This was originally published on Monday, May 28, 2018, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN. 

College is an exciting time for many. It’s important to start thinking about college as early as the high school freshman year. As you get ready to apply, start getting organized and be sure to be mindful of deadlines. Missing some of these deadlines can be costly or even cause you to postpone your start date.

It is important to prepare for the years to come and have a plan for how are you are going to complete your degree. Regardless what you plan to study and where you plan to attend school, you need to have a plan.

Junior year

This is the time where the choice of school has narrowed. Get on the colleges’ mailing lists for catalogs and other materials that can help you make your decision.

Taking your SAT or ACT is also a good idea. Numerous people take it several times to achieve a score they desire or just to shake off the nerves.

Start researching for scholarships or grants.

Senior year

This is the year where deadlines really come into play.

  • Fall. Meet with school guidance counselors to ensure you are on track to graduate and will meet college admission requirements. Also, ask them about college financial aid and learn about opportunities for scholarships and grants.

Start asking teachers, principals, coaches and other appropriate people for letters of recommendation. Start requesting for transcripts and begin applying to colleges and submitting applications for scholarships and grants.

Request for financial aid packages from colleges. If you are using a federal grant, your FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid form is available starting Jan. 1 of each year.

  • Spring. If you are going to need a private loan, start applying. Compare the financial aid offered from your chosen institutions. You may also want to check with your high school and chosen colleges if other scholarships or grants are available.

Payment options, clothing expenses

Decide on which college you want to attend and start discussing payment options. Many schools have a May 1 deadline to submit tuition deposits.

  • Summer before attending. Create a budget that includes expenses outside of your tuition and room and board. Include clothing, school supplies, transportation costs, and entertainment.

If you are living away from home, shop for room furnishings and décor. If you are going to a seasonal location you may need to consider clothing for the upcoming season.

You may want to get a summer job to help pay for expenses.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 24 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.

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