October is a month when a lot of things begin to happen. We welcome the arrival of crisp air, pumpkins, and earlier sunsets in the Fall. I look forward to Halloween, football under the lights, college fairs, and adding a vest to break the chill.
For families of high school students, especially those in 11th grade, October ushers in the thought of planning for post-high school, the 13th year. College, work, apprenticeship, or a combination. Twelve-grade families, it is an all-hands-on-deck push to complete applications, admission, and financial aid with an eye on September of 2023. For parents of college-age students, October is a time to check in on first marks and adjustments to being away.
Last month I took you into the weeds of this important to the college planning process. This month we’re looking at dates, deadlines, and events on the October calendar.
Wednesday, October 12th – PSAT Test Day
The preliminary SAT and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is administered nationally on one Wednesday in October. High schools work with the College Board to administer the test in Massachusetts and across the six-state region. Scanning a sampling of MA, NH, and ME high schools, students will take the PSAT on Wednesday, October 12. All students are encouraged to take the test to set a benchmark for future testing and as a qualifier for the National Merit Scholarship. Check with your high school to confirm the date for your school system. Homeschooling families are eligible to sit for the test at the town/city high school. Note: Saturday, October 15th is an alternative date
Saturday, October 1 – FAFSA Application Opens
The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is the universal application that ALL students and families considering attending or returning in September of 2023 must file to be eligible for need-based financial aid. Whether a student is considering undergraduate, graduate, a 4YR college or university, Community College, or a qualified trade and professional school, completing and filing the FAFSA is a must. We have published a FAFSA Checklist outlining the steps to take and the information required to complete the application in the Resource section of our website. It only takes 45 minutes to complete – Don’t leave valuable financial aid on the table.
Download a copy of the 2023-2024 FAFSA Checklist get started.
November 1st | 5th | 15th – Early Action Application Deadlines
Students planning on submitting their application for admissions using the Early Action timeline should be working to gather all necessary documentation to meet the deadline. Check with your specific college for admission requirements and dates. Be aware, I am not an Early Decision advisor. It limits choice and technically is a binding agreement process. Early action accomplishes the same, early consideration but without the stress of a binding agreement. Regular admission deadlines are in January and February. To be ready, you need:
⊗ Fully Loaded Application – the Common Application or school specific app
⊗ Dashboard loaded with school choices
⊗ Authentic well written essay
⊗ Responses to school specific Supplemental Writing (Questions)
⊗ High School Resume (if wishing to upload)
⊗ Fee Waiver – if eligible
⊗ Credit Card – pay the fee
High School College Fairs
Meeting and speaking with a college Admission Representative is an important experience for all high school students and their families, especially those in 11th grade. When you can’t get to a college to take a tour or meet on campus with an Admission Counselor, attending a College Fair is a great alternative. Representatives participate in local high school mini-fairs or regional events throughout the Fall. Students should listen to daily announcements or check the Guidance Department’s website to learn who & when are colleges coming to the school. Learn more about virtual fairs sponsored by NACAC
College Open House
High school seniors and families working to narrow their college selection should consider attending an Open House. Schools that are on the top of the list or not yet visited are prime choices. Need help narrowing the list, attend an Open House. Open House events are typically held on Saturdays and they are all-hands-on-deck events. You’ll have a chance to meet and speak with school administrators, faculty, and coaching staff, attend seminars, visit classrooms and speak with students. Check the college website for dates and times.
Family (Parent) Weekend
First-year and returning college-age students have been on campus for more than 30 days. Parents of newly anointed college students will find attending their student’s Family (Parent) Weekend event helpful. A weekend devoted to helping parents learn more about what their student is experiencing and the role they can play in helping their student be successful. As the dad of four, my wife and I always enjoyed attending these events with our younger students. We connected with other parents, listened for clues as to how our student was doing, and of course, went to dinner. Check the college website for dates and times.
TOP OF MIND
Loan Debt Forgiveness and PSLF Program
Although the White House and Secretary of Education have announced the creation of a program that will impact upwards of 813,000 MA residents, as I write this article (9/21/2022) we are still receiving guidelines piecemeal. What we do know is that borrowers with Federal Student Loan debt will be eligible for $10,000 ($20K if a Pell Grant recipient) based on income requirements. We have also learned that a separate Application will be required, available in mid-October and due by December 31, 2022. Adjustments to loan balances will be issued in early 2023. In the meantime, individuals who feel they may be eligible based ensure their account is up to date with their loan servicer and at www.studentaid.gov.
If you feel you are eligible under the PSLF provisions, file your application electronically now. There is a temporary limited PSLF Application deadline in place until 10/31/2022.
Note of Caution – DO NOT fall prey to the robocalling scam offerings. Their smooth-talking easy to handle service can lead one down the wrong path.