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When can I start applying for college?
Apply as early as you can! Most applications open by August 1, so you’d be applying a year before you would begin. Many schools have early admission deadlines in November, meaning you’ll hear back from the schools you’re applying to earlier and can plan accordingly.

In whatever way you apply, know that completing college admissions applications and gathering all the necessary documents can take a lot of time and effort, so begin the process at least one to two months prior to the college or university’s application deadline.

What college should I apply to?
How many schools you apply to will depend on time and financial budgets. As you prepare, prioritize the ones you’re interested in. Visiting these schools can help you make those decisions as well. Consider college type, size, location, distance from home, cost, financial aid, available majors and extracurricular activities in your search.

What are vocational and technical schools?
Vocational and technical schools offer students the skills required to perform a specific job. These schools focus on practical training, usually in a single field.

What information and documentation do I typically need when applying for college?
You’ll need biographical and demographic information (age, birthdate, race/ethnicity), educational background, extracurricular and volunteer activities, employment information, transcripts, test scores and more.

Can I get a fee waiver for my admissions application?
Some colleges may offer fee waivers for low-income families; check with the admissions office or your counselor for more information. Students who receive fee waivers for the SAT/ACT are also eligible for admissions application fee waivers.

How do I make a good impression during my admissions interview?
Some schools require an admissions interview. Much like a job interview, you should look professional, answer confidently, try to avoid filler words, smile and make eye contact, and have a firm handshake. Be sure to have your own questions to ask to show an informed interest in the college.


What is college admissions testing?
While some colleges and universities maintain a test-optional admissions process (a result of distancing during COVID-19), most four-year colleges still consider applicants’ scores on college admissions tests when deciding whom to accept. You should know that test scores are just one part of your college application, so be sure to devote appropriate attention to all elements.

How important are test scores to colleges?
The importance of test scores in the admission process varies from college to college and depends on an institution’s admissions approach and policies. Each college has its own policy. Some colleges may place a high level of importance on test scores — within the context of the other parts of your application. Other colleges may not require a test or use your scores for admission purposes at all. If you have questions about how a particular college uses test scores, check its admissions website or contact the admissions office.

What is the SAT?
The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. It is a multiple-choice test administered by the College Board. The purpose of the SAT is to measure a high school student’s readiness for college and provide colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all applicants.

How much do I have to pay to take the SAT?
The current fee is $60. Fee waivers are available for those who qualify; check with your high school counselor.

What is the ACT?
The ACT (American College Testing) is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. It is a multiple-choice test administered by ACT, Inc.

How much do I have to pay to take the ACT?
Depending on whether you choose to the write the optional essay or not, the registration fee for the ACT ranges anywhere from $63 to $88. Check to see if you qualify for a fee waiver with your counselor or by going to ACT's website.

What’s the difference between the SAT and ACT?
Although the SAT and ACT seem very similar, there are many differences between them. Generally speaking, students with strong verbal skills may do better on the ACT, while those who excel in math may have more success with the SAT. Other differences include scoring, timing and format.

When should I take the SAT and/or ACT?
Usually during your junior or senior year in high school. Juniors often take the test during the spring and retest the next fall.

What do I need to bring on test day?

Remember to always arrive at least 15 minutes early to the testing location.

What is the TSIA2?
The Texas Success Initiative Assessment 2.0 (TSIA2), previously known as the TSI, is a series of placement tests for students enrolling in public colleges and universities in Texas. The purpose of the TSIA2 test is to help your college or university determine if you are ready for college-level course work in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics. Based on how you perform on the TSIA2, you may either be enrolled in a college-level course and/or be placed in the appropriate developmental course to improve your skills and prepare you for success in college-level courses. You cannot “pass” or “fail” the placement test, but it is important that you do your very best on these tests so that you will have an accurate measure of your academic skills. You can be exempt from taking the TSIA2 for a variety of reasons.

Financial Aid

What is the FAFSA?
FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the process through which you can apply for any federal financial aid, including grants, loans and work-study funds.

Who should fill out the FAFSA?
Anyone who plans to attend higher education institutions and meets the requirements (U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident or nationals) should complete the FAFSA even if they think they won’t qualify for financial aid. There is unclaimed aid every year, and by completing the FAFSA, you can qualify for low interest loans. In addition, many scholarships require you to complete the FAFSA.

What do I need to fill out my FAFSA?
You’ll need your Social Security number, driver’s license, federal income tax return, other income documents and W-2 records. You’ll also need to create an FSA ID.

What is an FSA ID?
The Federal Student Aid ID is a username and password used to complete many federal aid tasks, including filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Who needs to create an FSA ID?
Both students and parents going through the financial aid process must create an FSA ID.

When should I create my FSA ID?
We recommend creating your FSA ID in the fall before the FAFSA is available on October 1.

How do I create my FSA ID?
Go to and click “Create Account” in the top right. Be prepared to provide certain demographic information, such as your full name as it appears on your Social Security card, date of birth, Social Security number, email address and/or mobile phone number. Tip: You will need access to your email and/or mobile phone in order to complete the verification step. Be sure to use your personal phone number and email address to avoid losing access to your account in the future.

Why do I have to set up two-step verification for my FSA ID?
Two-step verification, which is a form of multi-factor authentication, helps protect your account. Each time you log in, you’ll be asked to provide a one-time code that is delivered to you via email, text message or an authenticator app.

Can I edit my FSA ID?
Yes. If your personal information changes or you would like to update the email address linked to your account, you can make changes by going to, logging into your account, and clicking “Update Your Contact Information.”

What if I forget my FSA ID username or password?
You can retrieve your username or password by having a secure code sent to your verified email address or mobile phone number, or by correctly answering your challenge questions. If you use the challenge question option to reset your password, you will have to wait 30 minutes before you can use your FSA ID.

What is an EFC?
The Expected Family Contribution is the amount of money the family is expected to pay in that school year. It is calculated based on the information included in the FAFSA.

What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool pulls your tax information directly from the IRS for your FAFSA. Always use it, if possible, to eliminate any errors.

What should I do if I need help?
See your counselor or GO Center mentor. You can also contact the FSA Information Center at 1-800-433-3243. (1-800-4 FED AID)

Can I edit the FAFSA after I submit it?
To make corrections to the FAFSA, log into your account and click on Make FAFSA Corrections. Enter your FSA ID, make any updates and then hit submit. Make sure you’re paying attention to emails in case you get a notice about something needing to be corrected.

Do I need to submit the FAFSA every year?
Yes, you will need to submit the FAFSA ever year to remain eligible for federal student aid. After filling it out the first time, you can submit a renewal FAFSA in subsequent years. The website will automatically fill in most of your information from the previous year.

How is the TASFA different than the FAFSA?
The Texas Application for State Financial Aid is used to collect information to help determine eligibility for state financial aid programs that are administered by institutions of higher education in the state of Texas.

Students that are classified as a Texas resident who cannot apply for federal financial aid using the FAFSA are encouraged to complete the TASFA. The TASFA is a paper financial aid application. It asks similar questions to the FAFSA. The biggest difference is that you will submit a TASFA to each college you apply for along with your parents’ IRS Tax Transcript and a Verification Worksheet.

Can I fill out the FAFSA if I am not a citizen or permanent resident?
Most colleges will ask that you complete the TASFA and not the FAFSA. However, if your college asks you to complete a FAFSA, you will complete as a NON-ELIGIBLE, NON-CITIZEN. If you have a Social Security Number, you should enter it. However, if you do not have one, then enter all zeros. Do NOT enter your Tax ID # [TIN] unless this is given as an option.

What is a priority deadline?
The priority deadline is the date you must file your FAFSA/TASFA to receive priority consideration in the financial aid awarding process. In other words, you put yourself at the front of the line for financial aid. If you miss a FAFSA/TASFA priority deadline, you can and mostly certainly should still apply for financial aid. For many colleges, the priority deadline is January 15, but for some schools it’s as early as November 1. Check your college’s financial aid website to find their financial aid priority deadline. Because the Texas Grant is limited, it is essential for you to meet your college’s priority deadline to maximize your chance to receive this generous grant.

How do I sign my FAFSA?
You should sign it electronically using your FSA ID. If you cannot sign electronically for some reason, you can print out the signature page, sign and mail it in, but it slows down the process.

What is the SAR?
The Student Aid Report is the document that gives you basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid and lists your answers to the questions on your FAFSA.


How do I find scholarships?
Check with local organizations, your parent's or your employers, and other groups you are a part of. Look at your school or district scholarship lists. Check out scholarship pages like or

What should I be cautious of when applying for scholarships?
Make sure the scholarship you apply for is real; you should never pay any money for scholarship applications. Before you apply, be sure you meet all the requirements. Proofread your application; spell check doesn’t catch everything.

How do I keep track of all my scholarship applications?
Keep a list of applications, deadlines, status, etc. Always check your emails and make a folder to keep related emails.

What are some ways I can stand out on a scholarship application?
Include letters of recommendation, be personal and passionate in your essay, and proofread. Start early doing things that may add to your application – participating in school organizations, volunteering, pursuing achievements, etc.

What are some tips when applying for scholarships?

What are some of the most commonly asked questions on scholarship applications?
Applications often ask about your goals, how the scholarship will impact you, what sets you apart from other applicants, and who your role model is and why.

How should I request a recommendation for a scholarship application?
Ask someone who knows you well. Give the person plenty of time and a deadline that is before the application deadline. Some recommendations must be submitted directly to the scholarship organization, so make sure the person understands the process. It is helpful if you send a resume or “brag sheet” to help the recommender add more content to their recommendation.

Does the amount of money I receive from scholarships affect my eligibility for financial aid?
It can. It’s best to check with the college/university you plan to attend.

Financial Literacy

How much money should I save based on my income?
When you’re starting out in work or career, save as much as possible. Your income may fluctuate monthly, so it’s hard to set a specific amount. As your income becomes more consistent, start saving a specific amount each month. Standard financial advice says you should aim for three to six months’ worth of essential expenses.

What is the best way to organize a budget?
Find a system that works for you. If you have something that helps you track your expenses, you’re more likely to use it and stick to your budget. There are tons of free budgeting tools out there.

What should be my top priority in budgeting?
Be realistic. Don’t set your budget with money habits you hope to have. Be honest with yourself and prioritize needs and commitments first.

If I have extra money in the month, what should I do with it?
Save it or buy items you need. Don’t just spend money because you have it.

What does it mean to live beyond my means?
When you’re spending more money than you bring in each month, you’re living beyond your means.

Where can I go for help?
Sign up for a free iGrad account at Complete your Financial Wellness Checkup, which will help iGrad make personalized recommendations for content, tools and courses so you can get started.

Career Exploration

How do I pick a major?
Think about what interests you and what you enjoy doing. Research careers and majors that you are interested in to make a more informed decision. There are also career aptitude tests and personality profiles that can help.

Who can I talk to about choosing a career?
Your school counselor or GO Center mentor can help. You can also talk to people who know you best to get their advice. There are also career aptitude tests, personality profiles and many online resources as well at

What should I consider when picking a career?
You should think about what you like to do and create a list of things you want and don’t want in a career. Find something that best suits you and that can financially support your future goals.

How can I gain practical experience in a field I’m interested in?
You can get experience by doing internships or practicums with a company or organization in that field or by volunteering.

What is networking and why is it important?
Networking is an important tool that can be useful for meeting new people and creating new relationships, which can help you not only advance career-wise but also allow you to make new friends and perhaps business partners.

How do I create a professional online presence?
Make sure your username and bio are professional. Be mindful of what you’re posting; employers often look at candidates’ profiles on social media before making a hiring decision.

What should I include on my resume?
Include all the basics like work and education history, but make sure you’re adjusting each resume for the specific job you’re applying for. Use the keywords from the job description to ensure you’re not left out by any automated screening processes.

How do I prepare for an interview?
Research the company and become familiar with the mission, vision, goals, etc. Have your resume up to date and bring a copy. Wear nice clothes and look professional. Be prepared to sell yourself, your contributions and achievements. Prepare some questions to ask at the end of the interview.

What are some things I should do after an interview?
Be sure to shake hands with your interviewer. Send thank you cards or emails.

Why should I go to a career fair?
Attending a career fair can help you find out what type of jobs are available. Most companies have different departments like marketing, customer service, accounting, etc.