Timeline for Financial Aid Process


Junior Year:

  • Begin researching colleges by collecting information and attending your high school's college day program.

  • Attend your high school's financial aid night (usually held in January or February) to learn more about the financial aid process.

  • Search for scholarships and request applications. Pay special attention to the deadline for each scholarship.

  • Visit college campuses to check out the programs and facilities available. Be sure to ask about financial aid procedures, how to apply, what are the deadlines, what type of assistance do students receive. Use our Paying for College primer to help ask the right questions.

Senior Year:

  • Complete the applications for admission. You may wish to apply to more than one institution. If you are unable to afford the application fee, check with your school counselor or the admissions office of the college to see if a fee waiver is available.

  • If a CSS PROFILE form is required as part of the application process, complete before the colleges' deadlines.
  • After January 1 of the year you will begin college, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You should be sure to complete the FAFSA prior the college deadline. In many cases, deadlines will be before your parents have completed their tax returns; if necessary, estimate their financial information in order to meet the deadline. You can change your information later if it is incorrect.

  • Approximately 72 hours after you file the FAFSA online (3 weeks if you file the paper form), you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which shows the information you reported. If you see an error, talk to the financial aid office to see if you need to correct it.
  • If you apply for financial aid early in the year and you have been accepted by the college, you will usually receive an award notice from the college before May. The award notice will outline the types and amounts of financial aid you will receive if you enroll at that college. You should compare your award notices from the colleges carefully, looking at how much loan, work, and/or grants and scholarships are offered. You and your family should review the cost of attending the college and look at the funds offered before making your decision on which college to attend based not just on the financial aid award, but which school matches your interests best.

  • Before May 1: submit enrollment deposit, if required, to the college you plan to attend and notify the other colleges that accepted you that you will not be enrolling.
  • If you or your parents will need to borrow funds for college, call the College Foundation of North Carolina, 866-866-CFNC, for applications and information, or click here.