Professor Pig's Tips for National College Application Month

This year, National College Application Month is in October, so Professor Pig is sending along useful tips to help you prepare for the college application process.

What is it?

Spearheaded by the American College Application Campaign (ACAC), National College Application Month strives to increase the number of first-generation and low-income students applying to higher education. They host events to help parents and students navigate the complicated application process. Find details on events in your state here, but be sure to check with your local high school and library as well for upcoming meetings they are hosting or other available resources.

How do I Participate?          

Step 1 - To be eligible for in-state tuition, state grants, and some financial aid, students must prove state residency. Many states have a streamlined online process to help students determine eligibility for two-year and four-year state institutions.

Step 2 - FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is often the first step to paying for college and recommended to be completed in early October. Be sure to have last year's tax information on hand as well as personal identifying information for both students and parents, legal guardian status, driver's license, or vehicle information. If applicable, you may also want to have military information and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) documentation.

Step 3 - The final step is completing and submitting the applications. National College Application Month events typically feature experienced volunteers ready to give your high schooler hands-on guidance as they complete their applications. They also provide helpful advice for evaluating institutions on your shortlist, how to put your best foot forward, and how many colleges to apply. Some colleges and universities waive their application fees during certain weeks in October, so be sure to check with your desired institutions in advance. Students can also leverage fee waivers courtesy of the College Board or NACAC1.

What About Younger Students?

For those not heading to college quite yet, planning and saving is important. 529 plans are a popular way to save for expenses and can be used at qualified colleges nationwide, but the available information on them can be overwhelming. Simply put, a 529 plan is a college saving or prepaid tuition plan that provides tax and financial aid benefits such as 5-year gift tax averaging and qualified tax-free distributions. Check out these tips for leveraging college savings plans.

What Else Should I Consider?

Thinking about the cost of sending your child to college is overwhelming, especially with tuition, fees, and other related expenses on the rise. Check out these tips for saving on things like prep courses, exam fees, applications, college visits, technology, and housing. Sallie Mae has published information on student loan options, from undergrad and advanced to medical and legal degrees here.

Finally, don't forget to revisit the individual savings goals in your SmartyPig account and set up automatic deposits. The easy-to-use platform and high-interest rates will motivate you to save more and achieve your financial goals!


1 External links and third-party references are provided for informational purposes only. Sallie Mae cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by any third parties and assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions contained therein. Any copyrights, trademarks, and/or service marks used in these materials are the property of their respective owners.

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