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Articles / Applying to College / Scholarship Applications Now for Community College-Bound Senior?

Oct. 29, 2010

Scholarship Applications Now for Community College-Bound Senior?

Question: My son is going to start at a community college and then transfer. We do not need financial aid for the first two years. Do we need to apply now to get scholarships in place or do we wait two years? Same with FAFSA?

Depending on your family finances—and on scholarship options at the community college your son will attend—you may want to complete the FAFSA now … or not.


You say that you don't “need" financial aid for the first two years, but is it possible that your son might qualify for it anyway? If you already know that your son will not qualify for need-based aid at the CC, then you might be wasting your time with the FAFSA. If you're not sure if you'll qualify for aid, try an online EFC calculator like this one: http://apps.collegeboard.com/fincalc/efc_welcome.jsp ). If your Estimated Family Contribution (using “Federal Methodology") comes out to more than the cost of attending the CC, then your son will not get Federal Aid for this portion of his education.

However, you should also check out institution-specific scholarships offered by the college your son will attend. These will vary from school to school, but even community colleges do have them. If the college in question does offer these scholarships, you should investigate the application requirements and see if your son is eligible and if you need to complete the FAFSA to keep him in the running.

But if you know that he won't qualify for Federal aid and if there are no scholarships at his CC that demand the FAFSA, then you don't have to fill it out until your son is ready to transfer.

In the meantime, he may want to check out a scholarship database such as FastWeb (www.fastweb.com) where he will find a range of “outside" (private) scholarships for which he can apply. Once he completes and submits the free FastWeb questionnaire, he'll get a list of all sorts of scholarships that fit his profile. Some will be biggies (and highly competitive) while others may be small … but they do add up and can be a blessing when there are lots of books … or pizzas … to buy. ;)

Once it's time for your son to transfer, you should do the FAFSA then and possibly the CSS Profile form, which is also required by many colleges. But this is probably aggravation that you can defer for the moment.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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