Seniors—congratulations on submitting your applications! You may have a few January deadlines left to complete, but the light at the end of the tunnel is clear. You should be proud of yourselves for your hard work and dedication throughout the entire college application process. Now that you’re in the final stretch, it’s important to review what actions you’ll need to take as you begin to hear back from the schools on your list.

1. This year, the FAFSA doesn’t become available until December 31, so parents should be prepared to fill out the form at the beginning of January. It’s a good idea to organize your family’s financial records ahead of time so you can complete the FAFSA with as little stress as possible.

2. After you’ve submitted the FAFSA, continue to regularly check each college’s portal in case they decide to require the CSS Profile at the last minute. This could occur due to the delays in FAFSA processing. Once both parents and students have submitted all of the required records, students will begin to hear back from schools.

3. Revisit our guide to the various responses you may receive from the schools to which you’ve applied. Make sure you and your student understand the differences between an acceptance, a deferral, and being placed on a waitlist.

4. Wait until your student has heard back from all of the schools on their list, including financial aid letters, before making the final decision of which to attend. It’s essential to have all of your options laid out so you and your student can accurately compare the pros and cons of each institution. After reviewing the financial offers, you and your student may want to appeal for more funding at your top choice college. Reach out to us at Strategies For College for guidance on how to do that.

5. If you applied to a college with an Early Decision application, you may have already heard back from them, or you will be hearing back any day. Please remember this is a binding contract and you have made the commitment to attend. Nevertheless, there are reasons that you may decline the spot. An acceptable reason might be due to a considerable change in your family’s financial situation, such as a health issue or another disruptive event in your finances. Still, saying “no, thank you” at this point is very unusual. If you have questions, please contact your SFC advisor.

6. If possible, another trip to your student’s top schools can be worthwhile. Many colleges have an Accepted Students’ Day/Weekend event where prospective students can visit the campus and meet faculty as well as other potential members of their freshman class. Keep an eye on your inbox for a future newsletter about Accepted Students’ Days and how to make the most of this kind of event.

We sincerely hope you enjoy the winter break and find time to relax and enjoy family and friends. You’ve earned it!