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Department of Education tips for high school seniors


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Students gearing up for their senior year of high school may want to mix some college preparation into their summer fun. As the upcoming school year is sure to be a hectic one, it pays to get an early start on the college search process. For this reason, you might want to log onto the U.S. Department of Education's official blog which outlines some tips for soon-to-be seniors.

Weighing the costs
The Department of Education (ED) suggests that students should use the College Scorecard Web site to see how their prospective schools stack up against one another. This handy tool puts a variety of important information at students' fingertips, including campus size, degree programs offered, and the occupations available to graduates with degrees offered at the college. Students can also find data pertaining to graduation rates and the average student debt at a particular school.

Looking past the brochure
Many colleges send prospective applicants viewbooks featuring glossy pictures of campus life and a "Top 10" list of reasons why they should enroll. However, attractive as this booklet may be, it should not form the basis of students' decision to complete a college application. Students can do a little more research on the ED's College Affordability and Transparency Center which offers college-bound students the opportunity to search for schools based on the actual cost of tuition they can expect to pay. This can make the college search process much more straightforward, and provides high school seniors with a clearer idea of the financial implications of their choices.

Finding student aid
For many students, financial aid is a crucial aspect of the college search process. As such, young people getting ready for their senior year of high school should begin researching scholarships, grants and other forms of student financial aid as soon as possible. According to the ED's blog, some scholarships are open for application as early as a year before the fall semester actually begins, so finding and applying for these potentially generous awards should be on every high school senior's to-do list. The official Federal Student Aid Web site has a wealth of information on financial assistance, from Pell Grants to scholarships, making it one of the most valuable resources for students who are preparing for college.

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