October 2020
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FAFSA Series: Marking Your Calendar

It’s FAFSA season ‑ the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now open! For the next four months, we will be chronicling the need-to-know information about filing the FAFSA: beginning with deadlines. One of the questions we hear most often in the Center for College Planning is, “when do I need to submit the FAFSA?” Our response typically is, “we don’t know because the deadline is different at each school.”

It is important to understand that your calendar may look different from your friends’ calendars! Financial aid deadlines are not one-size-fits-all; a few factors determine your timeline:

1. HOW and WHERE are you applying?

Financial aid deadlines vary depending on the type of school and the admissions deadline. For example, most community colleges have rolling admissions deadlines with financial aid deadlines in the spring, whereas an early decision or early action deadline of November 1 means forms are due in the fall. It is conceivable that each school on your list could have a different deadline, so be sure to track them!

2. WHEN is the college’s deadline?

Sometimes we hear students say, “if I do not file the FAFSA immediately on October 1, I will miss the deadline!” or “the FAFSA closes in the summer, so I do not have to file the FAFSA until then.” It is important to recognize that there are federal deadlines and institutional deadlines. For example, if you wait until the summer to file the FAFSA because the form remains open, you will likely miss the institutional deadline. The college’s deadline is the one that you should follow ‑ check the financial aid websites of EACH college you apply to and discover what forms you need and when you need to submit them. We always recommend completing the FAFSA (and CSS Profile, if required) before the earliest college deadline.

The counselors at the Center for College Planning are available to file the FAFSA with you and your family! Although we are not accepting in-person appointments, we would be thrilled to connect over Zoom; call us at 888.747.2382 ext.119 to schedule your FREE appointment today!

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The Money Talk

Let’s talk. Before sending out applications and applying for financial aid, it is critical to have a conversation about finances with your parents. By communicating openly about expectations, you can make the best financial decisions and borrow money responsibly. Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. How much money are you able/willing to contribute toward your education from savings, summer jobs, or graduation money?
  2. How much money are your parents able/willing to contribute toward college costs?
  3. Are there other costs that should be included in the budget? Think books, travel, cell phone, entertainment, and computer.
  4. Is there money set aside for your college education?
  5. Who will take out loans if they are needed?
  6. What happens if one (or more) of the schools on your list does not offer enough financial aid for you to comfortably afford to attend?
  7. What does a financial safety school look like for you?

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Demonstrated Interest and Covid-19

Demonstrated interest describes a student’s interest level in enrolling at a particular college. Before the pandemic, students could demonstrate interest by going on a campus tour or attending a prospective student day. As we are in the think of the pandemic, students might choose other ways to show a college they are their top choice. For example, calling the admissions office with a question, attending a virtual information session, or sending an email to your designated admissions counselor to introduce yourself lets them know your interest!

It is important to note that demonstrated interest is a “soft” quality that does not add anything to a student’s application regarding intelligence or character. For very selective schools, showing interest and finding ways to interact with admissions representatives can be a factor in admissions, but will not carry more weight than GPA, the essay, or activities. However, demonstrated interest should not only be considered a tool to gain admission, but also a tool to learn. Having conversations with admissions representatives, attending a virtual tour, or organizing a call with a current student allows prospective students to learn more about the college or university. The knowledge gained from these interactions can help you determine if the school is a good fit.

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College Application Month ‑ IACB

This fall, 54 high schools across the state will participate in the virtual college application program, I Am College Bound/I Applied. This initiative encourages high school seniors to pursue higher education in the form that best helps them meet their goals. On specific dates in November, students at participating high schools can receive feedback and advice from admissions representatives and college/ school counselors on their application materials, before submitting their applications.

I Am College Bound/I Applied brings high school seniors together to celebrate the incredible achievement of applying to college! Additionally, participating students can apply FREE to ALL NH colleges and universities during this event; students are also entered to win a $500 college scholarship towards the college or program of their choice. Interested in participating? Register with your school counseling office, although walk-ins are welcome. For more information and a list of participating schools, click here.

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Major Spotlight ‑ Engineering

Are you a problem solver? Does lifelong learning excite you? Do you volunteer to tinker with the washing machine when it breaks? If so, an engineering major might be a good fit for you. Engineering is an umbrella field with several specializations, but all specializations require coursework in advanced math and science ‑ if STEM is not your passion, consider looking into a different field of study that interests you. After the introductory coursework, most engineering majors are required to choose a concentration or a track: for example, environmental, computer, or aerospace engineering. Because engineering is a broad field with various tracks and concentrations, be sure to do your research to see which school offers the concentration of your choice. Regardless your specific interest, all students in engineering programs will discover ways to make systems work more efficiently and successfully.


Although higher education can provide opportunities, the system is plagued with inequities that disproportionately affect Black students. The Manchester Chapter of Black Lives Matter offers a scholarship to Manchester high school seniors identifying as Black or African American. The deadline for The Black Lives Matter Manchester Achievement Scholarship is January 4th, 2021.