Congratulations! You have spent a vast amount of time searching the Web, pouring over books, catalogs, and brochures, visiting campuses, preparing for and taking standardized tests, gathering recommendations from teachers, writing and rewriting your application essay, and keeping up your grades—all in the name of going to college. Now you get to wait for that envelope that will one day arrive in the mail and begin to set your course for the future.
While sometimes "good" news arrives in a big envelope and "bad" news arrives in a small envelope, you just don't know until you open it! So, on the day that envelope arrives, go ahead, take a deep breath, and rip into it with confidence! Here's what you'll find.
The first sentence usually tells it all—either the school is happy to extend an offer of admission or the school regrettably is unable to extend that offer at this time. Although at that moment that's all you really want to know, keep reading! An acceptance letter from a college often has some instructions you'll need to follow, should you choose to enroll at that school.
Look for deadlines for acceptance. Look for additional forms to fill out and return. Most likely, your final high school transcript will need to be sent to your new college—look for a due date for this and work with your high school guidance counselor to ensure it happens. Deposits may be required—make sure you parents are aware of deadlines. The acceptance letter may also include information about housing, meal plans and freshmen orientation.
While all this information may be included with your acceptance letter, it may not; in that case, the school will usually follow up after receiving confirmation of your intention to attend. Financial aid information usually comes in a separate from the acceptance letter.
Hopefully your envelope contains exciting news. Just be sure to take some time to calm down and read and reread, especially with your parents, all the material your college has provided. You certainly do not want to miss a deadline or overlook a requirement that will jeopardize your enrollment! Remember too that should you have any questions, your college will be happy to answer them, after all, you're part of the family now! Congratulations!
SAMPLE ACCEPTANCE LETTER:
Date: January 21, 2004
2000 Lenox Drive
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Dear Ms. Applicant:
I am very pleased to inform you of your acceptance to USA University as a freshman for Fall 2004. You have been admitted to the Academic Center for Entering Students (ACES) at the USA University Main Campus.
The ACES program is designed for students who are not yet established in the academic major (see enclosed description). As an ACES student, you will be encouraged to explore a wide range of academic majors available at the University. Through individual advising and collaboration with all of the USA University Schools, ACES advisors will work to connect you with majors that fit well with your academic strengths and future goals.
We are confident that you will continue your high level of academic performance throughout the remainder of this year. This offer of admission is contingent upon your continued success. The Undergraduate Admissions Office requires that an official copy of your final transcript be forwarded upon completion of your high school course work. Please review carefully the enclosed materials that pertain to required deposits, deadlines, and other critical information.
Best wishes and congratulations!
Director of Admissions
The FAFSA is a lengthy form, and somewhat complicated. Be sure to read the instructions before completing the form. Most questions about the FAFSA can be answered just by reading the instructions carefully.
You will need the Title IV Institution Code for each school to which you are applying in order to complete the FAFSA. You can get this code from the school, or you can use FinAid's Title IV School Code Database.
If you have any questions about completing the FAFSA or federal student assistance programs, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243, TDD 1-800-730-8913) from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.
The US Department of Education publishes a collection of answers to frequently asked questions about the FAFSA form atCompleting the FAFSA.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) cosponsors College Goal Sunday. College Goal Sunday provides free professional help completing the FAFSA at workshops held at locations throughout the nation.
Make a copy of the completed FAFSA before mailing it. Keep it in a safe place with copies of all the records you used to complete the form. Not only will this be useful as a reference for subsequent years, but it may also be required for a process called verification. In addition to comparing the information on your FAFSA with data from the Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration, and Internal Revenue Service, the US Department of Education also selects about one-third of all FAFSAs for verification. If your FAFSA is selected for verification, the school will ask you for a copy of all the documentation you used to fill out the FAFSA.
When you mail your FAFSA, get a certificate of mailing from the post office to prove that you mailed it. (You do not need to send your FAFSA or PROFILE by certified or express mail.) If your FAFSA gets lost, the certificate of mailing will help establish the date you submitted the FAFSA, verifying that you sent it before the deadline.
If you use FAFSA on the Web, be sure to print out the signature page, sign it, and mail it. In your rush to submit your application, don't forget to finish the online process. If you don't reach a page that says your FAFSA has been submitted, no data has been sent to the federal processor.
If your parent cannot sign the FAFSA because he or she is not currently in the United States and cannot be contacted through normal means, his or her current address is not known, or he or she has been determined by a licensed medical practitioner to be physically or mentally incapable of providing a signature, your high school counselor, principal, or a college financial aid administrator may sign the form in place of your parent. They do not assume any responsibility or liability in this process. They should write their title next to their signature and briefly indicate the reason why they signed for the parent.
If you submitted a paper FAFSA and want to include more than four colleges, wait until you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). After you receive the SAR you can go online to fafsa.ed.gov to change the list of schools, since they will have received your information at the same time as you received the SAR. Or you could submit the FAFSA online initially, since the online FAFSA allows applicants to list up to ten colleges.
From high school honors and AP to middle school foreign language and high school counselors, a 4.0 and/or 5.0 high school GPA scale means more than just earning grades and working hard. Parents and students can benefit greatly from knowing about a few ways to greatly maximize high school and college admissions Grade Point Averages.