College, Financial Aid, and Scholarship Information

College Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started

What do I need to do first?

  • Every senior should request a copy of their unofficial transcript when school starts so that they can check it for accuracy (grades and test scores) and use it when completing applications online.

  • Pick up a transcript release form from the SME Registrar, Melanie Lowe, and return it completed with signatures (you must also obtain a parent’s signature if you are not yet 18).

  • Mrs. Lowe is available in the Student Services / Counseling office from 7:00-3:00. You can also email her with questions at However, you will need to submit a transcript request in person. (See more information about transcripts below.)

  • For counselor recommendations, you should see SME registrar Melanie Lowe first. She will explain the process and next steps. (See more in the Recommendations section below.)

How do I apply to a college or university?

  • Check each school’s admissions website for details.
    Most will allow you to apply online and some have multiple online methods. (See theTimelines & Deadlines section below about when to apply and whether you need to submit transcripts, test scores, and recommendations.)

  • Quick links to local schools’ admissions sites:
     KU    K-State    JCCC     Missouri (Columbia)  Pitt St.    Baker Univ     Ft. Hays St.    Wichita St.     Washburn Univ.

How can I find my GPA?

Your transcript includes both your weighted and unweighted GPA. You can get an unofficial copy of your transcript from the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, between 7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. 

Your weighted GPA can be found on Skyward on the Gradebook page (look for the small "GPA" in blue letters to the right of the student's name).

If you have questions about your grades or GPA, contact Mrs. Lowe.

What GPA scale is used at SME?

For both regular and weighted GPA, the GPA scale is 4.0

Do colleges and universities use my weighted or unweighted gpa for admissions?

Policies vary from school to school, so check the admissions website of the schools you’re applying to.

What is the size of the SME Class of 2019?

Some applications ask for your class size. This number will be available on August 13.

How do I find my class rank?

Officially, Shawnee Mission does not rank students. Class rank does not appear on a student’s transcript, and we do not provide it as part of a student’s official student record. There may be some rare circumstances where rank may still be required. Please contact your counselor if you have questions.

What is the SME school CEEB code?


This code is used when you register for the ACT and SAT, and is sometimes included on certain college and scholarship applications.

Getting In

What are the admissions criteria for KU, K-State, and other state universities in Kansas?

Kansas Board of Regents institutions include KU, KSU, Emporia State, Ft. Hays State, Pittsburg State, and Wichita State, and use Qualified Admissions criteria.

In addition to SMSD graduation requirements, in order to be admitted directly, students must also meet both of these Qualified Admissions requirements:

  • Math:  Must complete either:
          Option A - 3 approved units and earn a minimum 22 math ACT subscore or
          Option B - 4 approved units, one of which must be taken in the graduating year

    • Math "approved units" does not include the Consumer Math course

  • Science:  Must complete one unit of either Chemistry or Physics.
    (The SMSD course “Physical Science” meets the physical science graduation requirement and helps prepare students for either Chemistry or Physics, but does not meet the Qualified Admissions Physics or Chemistry requirement.)

Students must also have a 2.0 overall gpa AND one of the following requirements:

  • ACT composite score of at least 21; or 
    SAT score of at least 980, or 
  • graduate in the top 1/3 of their class.  

Additional requirements for the University of Kansas
Beginning in 2016, KU implemented stricter gpa and test score requirements:  

  • Students must have a 3.0 minimum GPA
    • With a GPA between 3.00-3.25, students must have a 24 or higher ACT composite
    • With a GPA of 3.25 or above, students need a 21 ACT composite score.

How do I know whether I will be accepted to a particular college or university?

  • Some schools use only a student’s gpa and coursework to determine admission, while more selective schools may also consider some combination of test scores, essays, recommendations, activities, leadership positions, community service experience, and other criteria. Carefully review admissions criteria on the website of each school you’re interested in.

  • To find colleges and universities that are a good fit for your interests and academic credentials, try the College Board's Big Future search tool, which includes a personalized, interactive search tool.

  • JCCC:  admission requires graduation from a state-accredited high school. The ACT is not required for admission, but JCCC may use it, or a student’s scores on the JCCC Accuplacer test, to determine course placement.

  • Many colleges and universities make exceptions and/or have an appeals process for students who do not meet all of their admissions requirements. If you are concerned about your eligibility, contact the admissions office of the school you’re interested in to identify your options and next steps.

Do I need high school credit in a World Language to be admitted to college?

World Language credit is not required for admission to a state university in Kansas, however, it is recommended for college preparation, and many other colleges and universities in the U.S. recommend or require two-to-four years for admission. (For example, U of Missouri-Columbia requires two years.) See KU's Foreign Language placement policy and check individual college websites you're applying to for details on their requirements and placement policies.

Timelines and Deadlines

What is the deadline to apply to KU, K-State and other state universities in Kansas?

  • State universities in Kansas use a rolling admissions method, which means they will usually provide you an admissions decision within a week or two after you have submitted all of your application materials. While there is no specific deadline, students are encouraged to apply early in order to be eligible for priority scholarships, housing, etc.
  • Be aware that some programs or majors within a state university may have specific deadlines (for example, the deadline to apply to the KU Honors Program is November 1st).
  • Also, keep in mind that many schools that use rolling admissions do have a specific deadline for scholarships and financial aid. For example, the priority deadline for scholarships at KU and K-State is November 1st. Check the Financial Aid or Scholarships website of schools where you're applying to find their specific financial aid deadlines. (See more in the Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions section of this web page.)

When do I need to submit applications to private colleges and state universities outside of Kansas?

  • Every school has different deadlines and processes, and they sometimes change from year to year. It is very important to read all information on each school’s website very carefully. Get started EARLY! Do not wait until the last minute, especially if you need recommendation letters.

  • At some schools the deadline for admissions may be different from its scholarship deadlines. Carefully review all deadlines on each college’s web site.

What do the different deadlines mean?

(These are general descriptions; be sure to check details on each school’s web site to determine how they define these terms!)

  • Rolling:  You may submit your application at any time and will usually receive a decision notification within days or weeks. (E.g. KU, K-State and JCCC)

  • Early Action: (usually in the fall)

    • No admissions decisions are made until after the deadline and students are usually notified within 1-2 months after the deadline. Usually non-binding.
      There are several variations, such as Single Choice Early Action and Restricted Early Action. Read all of the details carefully and see the SME registrar in September!

  • Early Decision: (usually in the fall)  

    • ​​​​​​​Almost always binding (if you are accepted, you must attend).
      No decisions are made until after the deadline and students are usually notified within 2-3 months after the deadline)

    • You, a parent, and your counselor will be required to sign submit a document acknowledging you understand your acceptance is binding.
                See the SME registrar in September!

  • Regular Decision (usually Dec 1 or later): Specific deadline and no admissions decisions are made until after the deadline. Students are usually notified 2-3 months after the deadline.

Many schools use a combination of these deadlines to allow students many options. Read details on each school’s website very carefully and never make assumptions!

See this article for more detailed information.

When should I meet with my counselor?

Important:  if you need a recommendation letter from your counselor, you must see the registrar first.

You should see the registrar a minimum of 6-8 weeks before your earliest application deadline.

The registrar will give you a questionnaire and after you return the completed questionnaire, she will then schedule an interview appointment for you to meet with your counselor.
Your counselor will not begin writing your recommendation letter until after this meeting.

If you have questions after you see the registrar, or if you have questions about other aspects of the college application process, send your counselor an email and she can help you.

What do I need to submit with my application?

Every school is different! For some you only need to complete an online application. With others, you may need to also provide a transcript, essay, test scores, and/or recommendations.
Generally, the more selective a school is, the more of these items they require for admissions.

Carefully check each school’s website for specific requirements. Do not submit information that is not requested. See more below in the Transcripts and Test Scores sections.

How/when do I use the Common Application or SendEdu or a similar application method?

  • These websites allow you to enter your information online once and have it sent to multiple schools. So if you are applying to more than two or three schools, it might make sense to use one of them.

  • Check each college’s website to determine which application methods are available (this varies a lot from school to school). Keep in mind that not all schools use Common App.

  • If you are using the Common App or SendEdu, you do not need to wait for your counselor or teachers to submit their recommendation materials. As soon as your submit your application, the college can download it.

  • However, an individual college or university cannot download your transcript and recommendations from Common App until you have submitted your application to that specific college.

See the Common App or ask your counselor for more information about which method is best for you.


How do I have a transcript sent to a college or university?

  • You must see the registrar first for all transcript submission methods (mailed, electronic, or uploaded).

  • If you are applying to a school via Common App or SendEdu, your counselor will upload your transcript and each college will download it only after you have submitted your application to that college.

  • Some schools allow your counselor to upload your transcript directly to their portal. Discuss this with the registrar when you sign your transcript release card and she will let your counselor know.

  • For all other application methods, the registrar will send your transcript to the college or university.

Do I need to send a transcript to all of the colleges I’m applying to?

No, some schools (for example, KU & K-State) use the “self-report” method and do not want you to send them a transcript when you apply. You will enter your courses and grades online when you apply. (Obtain an unofficial transcript from the registrar to make it easier to fill in your application.)

How do I know whether a college or university needs a transcript?

Follow instructions on each school’s web site. Do not send a transcript to a school that does not want or need it. It could delay processing of your application.

What about transcripts for scholarship applications and other programs?

Some scholarships, honors programs (e.g. KU Honors Program) and other special programs do require a transcript, even if you don’t need to submit one with your general application for admission.
Check details of these programs; some will allow you to upload an unofficial transcript. If they need an official transcript sent directly, see the registrar.

How do I have my transcript sent to the NCAA?

See the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, in the Student Services / Counseling office.

Will you send my final transcript to the college I’m attending after I graduate?

In April, each senior will complete a senior survey, which includes designation of the college they’ve decided to attend. SME will send your final transcript to that school in June.

Test Scores

Are my ACT/SAT test scores on my transcript?

Yes, if you indicated you wanted them sent to SME when you registered for the test.

If you did not mark the box to have your scores reported to SME when you registered for the test, we do not have your scores and cannot place them on your transcript (unless you later request that they be sent to us from the testing agency).

Am I able to remove my test scores from my transcript?

If you do NOT want your test scores on your transcript, you must request in writing to the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, that they be removed.

At your request we will remove all or none of your scores (you cannot choose to have only some scores removed).
Once they are removed they cannot be put back on your transcript.

Keep in mind that some selective schools require that you send all of your scores to them, so removing them from your transcript may not prevent them from seeing all of your scores. Check policies and requirements on the website of each school you're applying to.

Do I need to send my test scores to every school I apply to?

  • Every college has different admissions requirements. Some schools are "test-optional" and do not require any test scores, while others require all of them. Some allow students to report only their highest score in each component. It is the student’s responsibility to determine what test scores are required and whether a college or university will accept test scores that are on a transcript.

  • SME will transfer your test scores from your score report onto your SME transcript. (We do not send a copy of your score report to colleges along with your transcript.)

What are “official” test scores?

  • Each college or university determines what types of scores they consider official and what scores they will accept. Some will accept scores on a student's transcript or self-reported on the application, while others will only consider scores sent directly from ACT or College Board (for the SAT). Therefore, students must carefully check each college’s admissions web site to determine their policy.

  • If the school requires scores sent directly from the testing agency (ACT or College Board, for SAT), it is the student’s responsibility to request them from ACT or College Board. This can take several weeks, so check on this early in the application process.

  • Keep in mind that some selective schools require that you send all of your scores to them, so removing them from your transcript may not prevent them from seeing all of your scores.

Are my AP test scores on my transcript?

No. If your college or university needs official AP scores you will need to have them sent directly from College Board using their Score Reporting Service.

Recommendation Letters

Do I need to have recommendations for all of the colleges I’m applying to?

No, many schools do not need---and do not want---letters of recommendation.

Be sure to check each school’s admissions website for specific details.

If the school does not require or suggest or allow letters, do not ask teachers or a counselor for one “just in case.” Some schools will not process your application if you submit unwanted or unnecessary materials.

When should I ask for a letter of recommendation?

Good recommendation letters that are personal and detailed require a lot of time for the writer.
If you want a good recommendation letter, you must give your teacher(s) or counselor plenty of time (a minimum of one month, not including holidays).

Which teacher(s) should I ask to write a letter? How many recommendation letters should I include in my application?

Check each school’s website to determine what type and how many letters you need.
Some schools are very specific about who should write your letter.

More is not necessarily better:  some schools will not process your application if you do not follow directions and send more letters than the number specified.

How do I have a teacher write a recommendation for me?

  • Ask the teacher in person (not by email) at least one month before your application deadline.

  • Allow the teacher time to think about your request, since they may have multiple requests.

  • Follow up with the teacher afterward and ask what information they need from you (for example, a resume).

  • Be sure to let the teacher know the method they will need to submit the recommendation (online or Common App) and be sure you use their correct email address in Common App.

  • Always write your teacher a thank you note after they have submitted a recommendation for you.

What is FERPA and should I sign a waiver on my college applications?

The Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act allows a student to see information sent to an outside institution, including colleges and universities.

You will have the ability to waive this right when you apply to colleges and universities, which means you will not be able to see any recommendations that teachers and counselors submit for you. 

A positive recommendation for a student who has waived their FERPA right carries more weight with an admissions committee. It is to your benefit to waive your right to see recommendations.

Do I need a counselor recommendation for every school I’m applying to?

No, most colleges and universities do not need a counselor recommendation.

Some schools ask for just one recommendation letter. In this case, it is better to ask a teacher who knows you well and can best describe your academic performance in the classroom.

How do I have my counselor write a recommendation for me?

  • See the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, first. She will give you a questionnaire to complete and when you return it, she will schedule an appointment for you to have an interview with your counselor.

  • The counselor will use the questionnaire and interview to write your recommendation.

  • To provide a thorough, detailed, and personal recommendation, your counselor needs to interview you a minimum of one month before your earliest deadline, so you’ll need to return the completed questionnaire to the registrar six to eight weeks before your deadline.

School Report

What is a School Report?

This is a document completed by your counselor that includes demographic information about SME and basic information about the student (gpa, course history, etc.), and often includes a transcript.

A school report is only required by selective schools and is often submitted via the Common App or SendEdu. 

Does every college need to have a School Report completed by my counselor?

No, only selective schools or schools that use Common App or SendEdu or have an online School Report portal require this.

Check each college’s admissions website carefully for details. If you need a School Report in order to apply to a college or university, be sure to contact your counselor at least a month before your application deadline.

What is a Midyear Report?

This is an update to the School Report and is submitted in January, after fall grades are added to transcripts. We also report any schedule changes made after the initial school report was submitted.

SME School Profile

Where can I find the SME School Profile?

The Class of 2017 profile is located here on the SME Student Services/Counseling website. (The Class of 2018 profile will be posted the fall.)

You can find AP and IB course lists, ACT & SAT test score averages, and other community and school demographic background information on the profile.

NCAA & Sports

How do I know whether I am eligible to play sports in college?

You need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center as soon as possible.

There is a fee to register. If you qualify for free/reduced lunch, see your counselor for a fee waiver.

You can also use CoreCourseGPA for free to track your eligibility. Follow these steps to create an account:

  1. Go to
  2. Click "Free Member Account"
  3. Enter School ID and School Code
  4. Fill in appropriate fields to complete registration form.

SCHOOL ID: 172473

SCHOOL CODE: 706288901

If you have additional questions about playing sports in college or NCAA eligibility, contact SME Athletic Director Debbie Katzfey,

I am being recruited; how do I send my coach an unofficial copy of my transcript?

See the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, in the Student Services / Counseling Office,

You'll need to sign and submit a Transcript Release Form.

How do I have my transcript sent to the NCAA?

See the SME registrar, Melanie Lowe, in the Student Services / Counseling Office,

You'll need to sign and submit a Transcript Release Form.

College Reps Visiting SME

Students must sign-up in advance in the Student Services / Counseling Office.


  • Monday, Sept. 10th @ 9:15 am: Colby College
  • Wednesday, Sept. 12th @ 10:00 am: Vassar
  • Wednesday, Sept. 12th @ 1:15 p.m.:  Univ of Arkansas
  • Thursday, Sept. 13th @ 1:00 pm: Case Western Reserve
  • Friday, Sept. 14th @ 1:00 pm: Miami of Ohio
  • Friday, Sept. 14th @ 1:30 pm: Grinnell College
  • Wednesday, Sept. 26th @ 1:00 pm: Vanderbilt


  • Tuesday, Oct. 9th @ 10:30 am: Tulane University
  • Tuesday, Oct. 9th @ 1:30 pm: Trinity University
  • Wednesday, Oct. 17th @ 8:00 am: Colorado State
  • Thursday, Oct. 18th @ 10:00 am: Scripps College

College Web Resources

ACT College Planning
Includes year-by-year action plan and advice on finding the right fit and narrowing your list of schools.  You can also register for an email newsletter that addresses college planning.

College Board's Big Future
Many in-depth college planning and financial aid tools, including an interactive, customized college search tool

College rep visits:  We have dozens of college reps visit SME in year round that you can visit with (you may have already). Sign up in the Student Services / Counseling Office. Here is more information from our counseling dept. website.

SME College Clinic on Wed., October 10th (updated information for 2018 will be posted soon). One of the largest college fairs in the Midwest, it's a great way to visit with reps and get more information.

Kansas Degree Stats
Great resource created by the KS Board of Regents that allows individuals to compare degree costs among the state public universities.  Also includes information about average salaries for graduates and much more.

JCCC Student Services provides a variety of resources including test prep, tutoring, counseling, and college success support at their Academic Achievement Center.

Allows you to search using a variety of criteria and includes student reviews and polls provide rankings on a wide variety of criteria.

College Express
College and graduate searches, scholarship search, lists and rankings, articles and blogs, summer programs.

You Tube Education Channel
Thousands of current and relevant videos on everything from deciding where to apply to finding ways to pay for college.

Students Review
Thousands of in-depth reviews and campus news article clips.

Vast collection of campus video tours, videos about careers, and college tips.

College search, stats, and reviews. (I searched for soccer scholarships and found hundreds.)

Junior / Senior Planning Timeline

Use these guides to stay on track during your junior and senior years

Junior Year Timeline


  • Complete College Now application, authorization form, and ACT score submission if taking College Now courses through JCCC. 
  • Complete challenging courses to be well prepared for college.  When you apply to college and for scholarships next year, it is the transcript through the end of junior year that will be reviewed by colleges.


  • Study and prepare for either the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) or a Locally-scored ACT on October 10th.  Some scholarships are based on your PSAT/NMSQT.
  • Use the FREE SME online ACT test prep course.
  • Attend meetings with college admissions representatives who come to SME.
  • Schedule an appointment with your counselor, if you are interested in attending a Military Academy (Air Force, WestPoint, Annapolis or the Coast Guard Academy.)


  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT or Locally-scored ACT on Oct. 10th.  Remember to take a calculator and your school I.D.
  • Attend the College Clinic on Oct. 10th at Shawnee Mission East High School.


  • Prepare for the ACT or SAT.
  • Register to take the ACT or SAT in winter or spring.
  • Attend the Financial Aid Evening at SM Northwest.


  • Check college web sites and talk to your counselor to determine which test (ACT, SAT or COMPASS) is recommended for you to take.
  • Prepare for and do well on semester finals.


  • Identify the characteristics of a college that matters to you—size, location, cost, academics, social environment and diversity. Continue to identify your interests and strengths.
  • Make a list of 7-10 colleges that you would like to attend and investigate those schools.
  • Arrange for college visits. Schedule these during your spring break, if you can. Submit College Now application, AUTHORIZATION FORM, AND ACT SCORE SUBMISSION.


  • Investigate scholarships and other financial aid programs. Sign up with FastWeb and other websites to search for financial aid and scholarships for which you might qualify.


  • Explore options for summer plans:  work, volunteer, classes.
  • Register for Advanced Placement (AP) Exams before Spring Break.
  • Use the planning resources on the Federal Student Aid website to begin working on your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), so that you can submit it on Oct. 1st of your senior year.


  • Continue adding to your resume of activities, honors, leadership positions, and job experience.  You’ll need this information for college applications and scholarships.
  • Discuss post-high school and college plans with parents and check the SME College Planning webpage for details on the college application process.


  • If you haven't yet taken the ACT, SAT or COMPASS (for JCCC), register for a summer test date.
  • Take AP or IB exams you registered for.
  • Plan college visits over the summer particularly if your family is taking a vacation
  • Check SME website for summer Honors & AP  English assignments.


  • COMPLETE Honors & AP English summer assignments, if applicable.
  • Apply to JCCC and take ACT or Compass Test, if you plan to take College Now math or science classes in the fall.
  • If you are planning to attend KU or KSU after graduation the priority deadline for submitting your admission/scholarship application and ACT score is November 1.

Senior Year Timeline

  • Review your online graduation check sheet and make sure you are enrolled in what you need to graduate.
  • Register to take the ACT or SAT in September if you haven't yet taken it or want to try to increase your score.
  • Complete College Now application, AUTHORIZATION FORM, AND ACT SCORE SUBMISSION if taking College Now courses through JCCC.
  • Continue working on completing your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), so it's ready to submit when the window opens on Oct. 1st.


  • Discuss post-high school and college plans with parents and check the SME College Planning webpage for details on the college application process.
  • Meet with college representatives when they visit SME. Listen for announcements throughout year.
  • Begin college and scholarship applications, KNOW DEADLINES!
  • If you will need a recommendation letter from a counselor and/or teacher, give them plenty of time (minimum of four weeks before your application deadline). See the Frequently Asked Questions tab for more information.


  • Attend the SME College Clinic on Oct. 10.
  • Complete admission/scholarship applications for some state universities by Nov. 1

November- December

  • Attend Financial Aid Evening at SM Northwest
  • Check online audit sheets, make sure you are enrolled in the necessary credits to graduate.


  • Continue working hard to keep your grades up during your last semester.
  • Apply for Kansas State Scholarships if fulfilled Kansas Scholar Requirements
  • Complete College Now application, AUTHORIZATION FORM, AND ACT SCORE SUBMISSION if taking College Now courses through JCCC.


  • Submit Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1
  • Take COMPASS exam if attending community college.
  • Register for Advanced Placement Examinations before Spring Break.
  • Notify Student Services of any scholarships, awards offered.


  • Complete the online Senior Survey in Skyward to indicate which college you want your final transcript to be sent to.
  • Take Advanced Placement Examinations you registered for.
  • Notify Student Services of ALL Grants and Scholarships that have been offered to you even though you may not accept them.
  • Inform selected college of acceptance and intent to enroll.

Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Aid & Scholarships

What kind of financial aid is available?

Financial aid and scholarships may come from the college itself, from the federal or state government, or from outside organizations, and can be based on grades, test scores, financial need, location, demographic background, athletic ability or other talent, or some combination of those and other factors.

Aid may be in the form of grants, loans, or work-study opportunities. For more detailed information on what these are and how they differ, see the Federal Student Aid website.

What is the FAFSA and do I need to submit it?

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is used to determine whether a student qualifies for federal student aid.

But it is also used in many other ways by universities and other organizations when awarding financial aid and scholarships, so you should complete and submit the FAFSA even if you think your family is above the income threshold.

Read Myths About Financial Aid for more information.

When do I need to submit the FAFSA?

  • Seniors should begin working on the FAFSA now so that you’ll be ready to submit it when the form opens on October 1st

  • There are sections to be completed by both the student and parent.

  • The first step is to get an FSA ID. The online application has help available on the website.

  • Information submitted is based on your family’s 2016 tax year filing. You can print this worksheet to have a preview of the questions on the FAFSA and what information you’ll need before you begin the online application.

  • Each college may have a different financial aid deadline. Check here to search or contact the college(s) you are interested in attending.

How do I calculate how much college will cost and how much financial aid I can receive?

  • Costs vary widely and family income is only one factor used to determine financial aid eligibility. Schools use the “EFC” (Expected Family Contribution) to determine how much aid is awarded to each student.

  • You can the FAFSA Forecaster for a quick estimate of how much aid you might receive before you submit your FAFSA.

  • The College Scorecard is a great tool you can use to search for and compare schools, and determine how much it will cost to attend a specific college or university.

  • College Cost Calculator
    It's a common misconception that everyone pays the "sticker price" for college. Use this calculator from Community America Credit Union to determine the cost you may pay based on your income level and location.

  • Another great source of information will be the Financial Aid office of the school where you’re applying.

What are application Fee Waivers?

If you qualify for free/reduced lunch or have some other type of recognized financial challenge, you may be able to have one or more of your college application fees waived.

If you believe this applies to you, send your counselor an email so she can make sure to assist you before your application deadline(s).

How do I find scholarships?

You should always first check the Financial Aid or Scholarships website of the colleges you’re applying to.

Then use search engines that allow you to create a profile and find scholarships that match your background and qualifications. (See suggestions on the Web Resources section of this site.)

Beginning in September, you should also check the SME & Local Scholarships list frequently for information about SME and other local scholarships.

How do I qualify for a scholarship?

College and outside scholarship organizations use a wide variety of criteria, some alone and some in combination with others.
Check the details on a college or organization web site to determine whether you qualify.

Examples include:

  • Grades

  • Test scores

  • Activities

  • Essay

  • Demographic background (geographic, ethnic, nationality)

  • Gender

  • College destination

  • Financial means

  • First generation to attend college

  • Recommendation letter

  • High school attended

What is the CSS/Profile?

This College Board form is similar to the FAFSA and is used by many private colleges in determining financial aid and scholarships.

Check the Financial Aid website of colleges you’re applying to in order to determine whether you need to submit the CSS Profile.

Financial Aid Web Resources

Best financial aid web site to start with:
Non-profit that covers all types of aid and scholarships and is written by an award-winning financial aid author. Also includes tips on the college search and application process.

Great scholarship and college search site:  Fast Web
Comprehensive, and allows you to search in a variety of ways. Scholarships are awarded on a variety of factors (grade, test scores, interests, activities, financial need, essay, etc.). Some only look at one of those factors, while others combine a variety of criteria. For example, scholarship may require only an essay, while others may require only an essay but the student must have a minimum gpa in order to qualify.

College Cost Calculator
t's a common misconception that everyone pays the "sticker price" for college. Use this calculator from Community America Credit Union to determine the cost you may pay based on your income level and location.

College Board's Financial Aid site covers all the basics and includes videos and webinars.

The ACT Financial Aid information site is comprehensive and includes detailed information about applying for aid, finding sources of scholarships, the basics of student loans, and work-study options.

Khan Academy's Paying for College
Short videos covering a wide variety of financial aid and scholarship topics.