12th Grade Checklists | Federal Student Aid

12th grade is the time to apply for admission to college and to apply for federal student aid by filling out the FAFSA®.

Here’s what students and parents should be doing throughout the year to stay on track at this busy time—including learning how to manage federal student aid.

12th Grade Checklists


To Do:

All Year

  • Work hard all the way to graduation—second-semester grades can affect scholarship eligibility.
  • Stay involved in after-school activities, and seek leadership roles if possible.


  •  As soon as possible after its Oct. 1 release, complete and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), at fafsa.gov, along with any other financial aid applications your chosen school(s) may require. You should submit your FAFSA® by the earliest financial aid deadline of the schools to which you are applying, usually by early February. Refer to the FAFSA: Applying for Aid section of this site as you go through the application process.
  •  After you submit the FAFSA, you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within three days to three weeks. This document lists your answers to the questions on your FAFSA and gives you some basic information about your aid eligibility. Quickly make any necessary corrections and submit them to the FAFSA processor.
  • If you haven’t done so already, register for and take the standardized tests required for college admission. Check with the colleges you are interested in to see what tests they require.
  •  Apply to the colleges you have chosen. Prepare your applications carefully. Follow the instructions, and PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO DEADLINES!
  • Well before your college application deadlines, ask your counselor and teachers to submit the required documents (e.g., transcript, letters of recommendation) to the colleges to which you’re applying.
  •  Complete any last scholarship applications.


  • Visit colleges that have invited you to enroll.
  • Review your college acceptances and compare the colleges’ financial aid offers.
  • Contact a school’s financial aid office if you have questions about the aid that school has offered you. In fact, getting to know your financial aid staff early is a good idea no matter what—they can tell you about deadlines, other aid for which you might wish to apply, and important paperwork you might need to submit.
  • When you decide which school you want to attend, notify that school of your commitment and submit any required financial deposit. Many schools require this notification and deposit by May 1.

To Explore:

REMEMBER: Register for all tests in advance and be sure to give yourself time to prepare appropriately! If you have difficulty paying a registration fee, ask your school counselor about getting the fee waived.


To Do:

To Explore: