US Federal Student Aid College Preparation Checklist

Are you prepared to go to college? A higher education usually results in receiving higher salary and being employed long term. A college education can lower your probability of losing your job or any chance of unemployment.


The first thing you need to do before anything else is to find a student scholarship grant to defray your college expenses. This checklist is a to do list to help you prepare financially for your academic education, which includes the websites you may find useful.


You can apply for a financial aid using the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). A live chat customer service representative can assist you in completing your FAFSA Student Aid Application.


Moving from high school to college is a major life transition. From researching academic support to developing technical skills, you can prepare yourself even before you step your foot in the classroom. You need to get yourself ready for college and increase your ability to meet your educational goals.


College is an investment you make for your future. The amount of time and the effort you spent preparing for it can result in optimum benefits. There are college prep programs that can help you bring all the information together.


  • Help to plan a challenging course schedule.
  • Keep records of classes and grades.
  • Track graduation requirements.
  • Suggest which college admission tests to take and when to take them.
  • Connect students to information on various colleges, majors and careers.


  • Recommend colleges to match academic profiles and career goals.
  • Advise on “safety,” “probable” and “reach” colleges.
  • Make sure transcripts are sent to colleges.
  • Write letters of recommendation.
  • Explain how aid awards and financial aid work, and connect students to local scholarship opportunities.



College admission requirements are typically more stringent than high school graduation requirements. They often require a higher level of demonstrated competence in mathematics and science, and may even require a minimum number of years of foreign-language study.


Students, “college prep” is about more than the classes that you take. It’s also about developing the skills that will help you succeed in college and life. For instance, as you balance studying and having fun, you’ll be practicing time management; and as you save for college, you’ll be learning money management. The checklist suggest these and many other steps you can take, as well as websites you can explore, as you prepare academically and financially for college.



To Do

  • Look into getting a General Educational Development (GED) certificate if you don’t have a high school diploma; try searching online for “GED certificate” and your state’s name.
  • Research careers and the need for various jobs in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Or, for an interactive tool, try the U.S. Department of Labor’s career search.
  • Use College Navigator to find the right school for your career intentions. Get tips on choosing a school.
  • Ask employers to recommend schools that provide training in the skills you will need for the career you choose.
  • Ask your employer if assistance is available to help you pay for school.
  • Use the U.S. Department of Labor’s scholarship search to find scholarships.
  • Apply for federal student aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).
  • Get to know the financial aid staff at the school you plan to attend; they can help you with aid applications and explain the types of aid available.



To Explore

  • Use the College Scorecard to compare schools’ annual costs, graduation rate, and median salary after attending.
  • Ensure that you get your money’s worth out of your vocational education by following the tips in the fact sheet called Choose a Career School Carefully.
  • Learn about federal funding for your education.
  • Discover why federal student loans are a better option than private loans.
  • See how you might benefit from federal income tax credits for education expenses.





Federal Student Aid

Financial aid from the federal government to help you pay for education expenses at an eligible college or career school. Grants, loans and work-study are types of federal student aid. You must complete the FAFSA to apply for this aid.


You may want to read about the FAFSA here



KnowHow2Go is a campaign designed to encourage students and veterans to prepare for college. You may want to explore the site and learn more about the steps you need to be college ready.



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