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College Application Season: Scholarships & Financial Aid

This college application season, we've called on our Learning to Work College-Career Specialists and Advocate Counselors to share some advice that has helped our students find success. Our first post gave an overview of The Ins & Outs of Applying. Today, we're discussing scholarships and financial aid.

There are many opportunities that can open doors for students, and make college possible when it may have otherwise been inaccessible. However, it can be difficult to know where to begin, or determine which path is right for you. If you have questions about FAFSA, and need resources around finding and applying for additional financial assistance, take a look below for our tips on navigating the process.

All About FAFSA

  • Each year, the application opens on October 1st. Our staff recommends beginning the process right away, as it will inform your college decisions.

  • Begin by creating an FSA ID for both yourself and your parents. You can visit this website to find more information.

  • Gather the necessary documents and keep them in one, secure place. Consider storing the information somewhere that allows selective access for anyone assisting you in putting together the forms. This will enable counselors or parents to more easily respond to your inquiries. 

  • Download a copy of your FAFSA report once completed and processed, and keep in your secured folder.

  • Once submitted, be sure to follow up and check the status of the application once a week.

Searching for Scholarships

  • Use online tools, like this website that has information on thousands of potential scholarship opportunities. You can use the filter function to search for scholarships that are the right fit. 

  • Reach out to organizations you're part of and ask if they offer scholarships to high school students.

  • Talk to your college counselor and admissions counselors! They can help you identify scholarships that are right for you, or help you seek out any that are school-specific.

  • If you know you will be applying for any awards, be sure to request letters of recommendation early. Choose people, generally outside of your family, who can speak to your strengths, and make sure to give them enough time to write the letters before your deadlines.

Additional Aid

  • The Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) helps eligible New York State residents pay tuition at approved schools in New York State.

  • The easiest way to apply for TAP is through the FAFSA - be sure to complete the FAFSA forms prior to completing TAP.

Remember that teachers, parents, and college counselors are available if you ever need a helping hand! Next up, our staff will share their tools for managing stress and navigating pressure as you work through your applications, right here on the Mission blog.

Thank you to our Learning to Work specialists, Jolisa Smith, Phoebe Kuo, Jonathan Pinque, Lily Scheyhing, and Ashley Rivera for putting together these amazing tips for our students.

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