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            Congratulations! This is a very exciting time in the life of a high school senior. At this point you have likely already taken the SATs and put your college applications in the mail but you’re probably wondering what’s next? The looming question every student will face at some point during the process is “how am I going to pay for school?” While some students are fortunate enough to have a means for paying for college with savings from their parents or part-time jobs, a majority of students will need to find additional resources to help pay for their undergraduate education. The good news is there are many resources that students can take advantage of to help pay for school.

            One of the most important applications students who aspire to attend college should fill out is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid which is fondly referred to as the FAFSA form. Federal Student aid is financial assistance that’s available through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid.  It helps to cover expenses such as tuition, books, room and board, just to name a few. Filling out this form correctly and on time (deadline is for most schools to ensure aid is March 1st) could be the difference in a student attending a 2-year community college versus a 4-year college or university. Most of you have probably heard about this form and already know its importance, but I would like to offer 5 tips to keep in mind in regards to the FAFSA:

Fill the application form out electronically-You have the option to fill out a paper version of the form to be mailed and to complete the form online. Completing the form online will allow your application to get processed quicker and provides an opportunity to make corrections if any need to be made in a timely fashion

Fill the form out even if you/your parents have not filed the previous year’s tax return-One mistake many students and their families make is waiting to complete the form until after taxes are filed. Did you know that you can use your W-2 forms to get certain financial information needed to complete the FAFSA form? Most families’ incomes do not change drastically from year to year (unless a qualifying event such as job-loss takes place). Even if you use last year’s numbers to fill out the form initially, you are given an opportunity to make corrections to your form after it has been processed. The sooner you get your form in the better

Know the federal school codes for colleges you are applying to-Before you even begin filling the FAFSA form out, you should already have the federal school code for all the colleges you are applying to. If you are not sure a federal code, be sure to call the prospective school’s financial aid office to get this information. Near the end of the application you have the opportunity to list up to ten schools who you want to receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). This will help the schools determine how much you and your family can afford to pay for college

Make sure you and your parent/guardian(s) apply for a federal PIN-This personal PIN is used each year to electronically apply for federal student aid and to access your Federal Student Aid records online. This PIN also serves as you and your parent/guardian(s) electronic signature and provides access to your personal records. Be sure to keep your PIN in a safe place because this same number will be used every year to complete the FAFSA form

Complete the form in its entirety-Review the form several times before you submit it for processing. Any incomplete applications will delay processing and depending on the schools you applied to could knock you down list for any grants or scholarships the school has available for eligible students who filled the FAFSA form out. While each school has a pool of money allotted, it is students who get their forms in early that benefit the most

If there is only one thing you remember from this message, let it be this: the FAFSA form should be filled out every year after January 1 as soon as humanly possible. The sooner you get it done, the better it will be for you in the long run.


Bridget Akintunde, MHA

Client Services Manager

HealthStream Research

First Generation College Bound Alumna

As a high school student, there are a lot of things that are on your mind, especially as the school year is just getting underway: new classes, new teachers, new schedules, new students, and most importantly, new challenges.  High school is the time where you discover so much about yourself and begin to learn where you may want to take the next steps after you finish high school.  That in and of it itself, can be a source of uncertainty, but it doesn’t have to be.  There are so many resources available to you and now is the time to begin to take advantage of them.

So what types of things should you as a high school student be thinking about regarding your future?  Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin to think about beginning the journey of your educational future.

1.    The type of college you want to attend. The type of college you choose can determine what you are exposed to and the opportunities you are afforded during your college career.  It also may help guide you towards the career you may choose after graduation and the experiences you will encounter.  You have options of two year institutions and four year institutions, both of which are great choices.  To get started, take a look at the location of the schools, the majors they offer, the entrance requirements (SAT/ACT scores, essays, letters of recommendations and deadlines), and the tuition costs.

2.    The type of volunteer/internship experience you currently have or need.  When trying to determine the next steps of your educational career, volunteering or working in paid or unpaid internships can provide you with both great experience for your resume and an excellent chance to see what you like and don’t like.  Your guidance counselor can help you with determining where some of these volunteer/internship opportunities may exist.

3.    The type of career you may be interested in.  As young children, many of us said we wanted to be doctors, lawyers, fire fighters, police, or professional athletes.  But as we got older, we may have lost sight of those dreams for any number of reasons.  No matter what your career thoughts may be, determining what may be the best fit for you is just a “click” away.  The internet is full of websites that can provide information regarding education requirements, schools that offer degree programs for that career and what those degree programs are, and potential salaries for those career choices. 

Albeit a lot to consider, these few things can help point you in the right direction regarding what you may want to do after you graduate from high school from a college-bound perspective.  As a high school student, you have a wealth of resources available to you to help point you in the right direction.  Guidance counselors, peers, and mentors are just a few.  Talk with friends and family about their career choices and what was required for them to be successful.  Do some internet research on things you enjoy and what you are good at doing and see if there are careers tied to those skills and interest.  The bottom line – it’s never too early to start planning your post high school future.  In fact, the earlier you get started, the more opportunities you’ll have to explore and find out exactly what you may want to dedicate more of your time to.  All in all, an early start is a good start.  The early bird gets the worm!

Stefanie B. Lomax, PHR
Director of Human Resources
Rolyn Companies, Inc.

The beauty of CareerPuppy.com is that you tailor the site to your needs. If you have no idea what you want to do, follow the list below in order. Do you think you know what you want to do? Create your personalized search and learn more about your chosen career by watching videos, connecting with those who are seasoned professionals, and get Tips & Tools to help you get there.
Take the Test – Deciding what you want to do is no small matter. The time and training involved to get there can be costly. By taking the Strong Interest Inventory® instrument you are on your way to learning new insights that will help you with your career quest. It provides time-tested and research-validated information to assist in your search for a rich and fulfilling career. You will receive a report that zeros in on the top 10 occupations potentially most satisfying to YOU. The report takes only 30 minutes to complete and you will have your results within 24 hours! The cost is only $19, well below what other websites charge! Career Puppy also provides report results interpretation sessions at no additional cost.
Sniff Around – Explore careers and get a realistic picture of what they are really like – the good, the bad, and the ugly! CareerPuppy.com has complete written descriptions that include the tasks, necessary skills and abilities, educational requirements, future outlook of the career and many other important aspects to know. Watch video’s of people passionate about their jobs. CareerPuppy.com staff shoots each of our videos with YOU in mind, so you get an insider’s view - not only them performing in their job, but their journey to getting there, pro’s and con’s of the career, and advice!
Big Dog Forums – Still have more questions? Go to our Big Dog Forum and ask the experienced professionals. The public forum allows you to post your questions and read responses to questions that others have asked so you can benefit from all the advice our Big Dogs have to offer.
Tips & Tools – Finding the right career is only the beginning. In Tips & Tools, CareerPuppy.com provides links to useful resources and downloads to help you plan for the next steps. Also, follow this blog where guest blogger’s will offer sage advice to help you along your career path. Whether you want to start your career right out of high school, are on a college track or transitioning careers, we have resources to help you along your path. And parents, we haven’t forgotten you! Check for information to help you guide your Career Puppy along their career path as well.
Career Hounds – join Career Hounds to network and connect with others. You can create your own profile, share your career story - where you've been and where you're going, and upload your own personal career videos.
Other features – Keep an eye on our Calendar of Events for upcoming webinars, and other CareerPuppy.com events. In the future, we’ll be posting podcasts too. And don’t forget to visit the Marketplace for products and services, including the Career Puppy DVD series, professional development and workshops and Website subscription.
In future entries this blog will offer general advice about careers and the preparation needed to get there. We’ll have guest bloggers, experts in career preparation, offering sage advice about how to reach your career goals. Best of luck in your career quest!