Senior Tips - Iowa College Access Network - ICAN

Senior Tips

August Tips

  • Your senior grades really do matter. Colleges look at your overall grade point average (GPA) through all four years of high school. It's not too late to improve your GPA.
  • Finalize your list of colleges. Decide which colleges best suit you and your career interests. Review your campus visit notes and compare schools on academic, cultural, and financial fit.
  • Find information on admission, scholarships, and financial aid for the top schools you're considering. Take note of admission and financial aid deadlines.
  • Register now to take the September ACT.
  • Beware of scholarship search and financial aid service organizations that charge a fee for service. Check with your high school counselor or search at no cost.
  • Visit to learn about the FSA ID username and password. You and a parent each need an FSA ID for your financial aid form. Print a list of items you need to fill out the FAFSA at
  • Let ICAN assist you through the college planning and financial aid process at no cost. Visit to schedule an appointment online.

September Tips

  • Be aware of deadlines. Begin or continue to send in applications for admission. Most colleges accept online applications, and some may waive the application fee for applying online. Keep copies of paper applications and write down the date you submit online applications.
  • Register to take the Oct. 4 SAT® by Sept. 9 and/or the Oct. 25 ACT® by Sept. 19 if you have not already taken them. You may also retake the test if you are unhappy with your previous score. Check with your high school counselor or college admissions office before you retake the test.
  • Research scholarship possibilities at the library and high school counseling office. Ask your teachers, high school counselor and/or employers to write letters of recommendation for your admission and scholarship applications.
  • Attend college fairs in your area and meet with college representatives who visit your high school. The Golden Circle College Fair is the largest college fair in Iowa, with approximately 150 colleges represented.
  • Attend a financial aid presentation with your parents. Ask your school counselor when presentations take place or visit
  • Visit to find a FAFSA Ready Iowa completion assistance event near you. Volunteers will help you file your FAFSA for free.

October Tips

  • Know the priority dates for filing the FAFSA at the colleges you're applying to. Submit your completed FAFSA after Oct. 1 but before the priority date. ICAN can help - 877 272-4692. 
  • Continue submitting your admission applications to the colleges you're most interested in. Be aware of deadlines! Try to have your applications submitted by Nov. 1. 
  • Did you register in September for the ACT® or SAT® tests? Are you ready to take the SAT on Oct. 4 or the ACT on Oct. 25? If you decide to retake the ACT or SAT to try for a higher score, visit with your high school counselor first.

November Tips

  • Look into financial aid options. Continue to research and apply for private scholarships.
  • Beware of scholarship search and financial aid services that cost money. Much of the information is available at no cost. Check with your high school guidance office or search without charge on our website. We can also help you through the financial aid process.
  • Need help filing a FAFSA? ICAN can help. Call 877-272-4692 to schedule an appointment.
  • Finish your college admission applications you haven't already completed.
  • Send in college housing applications.

December Tips

  • Visit with your school counselor about application deadlines, local or state scholarships, and grants. 
  • Continue to apply for grants and scholarships.
  • Stay focused! Grades in your senior year can affect college admittance.
  • Watch for your Student Aid Report (SAR) if you've filed your FAFSA. Check that it lists all the colleges requiring receipt of your FAFSA.
  • Work with ICAN to create a plan to finance college with tools like Student Loan Game Plan -

January Tips

  • Submit your FAFSA, if you haven't already done so. Need help filing a FAFSA? ICAN is here to help. Call 877-272-4692 or visit to schedule an appointment.
  • Determine a college budget based on salary expectations for your chosen career or industry. Visit
  • Have your high school send your first semester transcripts to the colleges where you've applied.

February Tips

  • Make sure your first semester transcripts have been sent to the college(s) you've applied to.
  • If you haven't already submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you should do so as soon as possible.
  • Watch out for deadlines, including your college's priority filing deadline and any scholarship deadlines that apply to you.
  • Keep copies of your completed federal tax returns handy. Be prepared to mail them to your college(s) if they are requested. Promptly respond to document requests made by colleges.
  • Keep your grades up -- second semester grades are important and can affect scholarship eligibility and college admittance. 
  • Review your budget and financial plan for college. Talk with your parents about cost responsibility.
  • If you submitted your FAFSA, watch for your financial aid package(s) from the college(s) you're applying to. If you're considering several colleges, you should compare your award letters.

March Tips

  • Visit an ICAN center to review and compare financial aid packages from colleges. An advisor will analyze your packages using the College Funding Forecaster and help you determine the best financial option.
  • If you gave an e-mail address on your FAFSA, you should receive a link to your SAR (Student Aid Report) via e-mail.
  • When you get your SAR, look it over carefully. If you need to make corrections, contact the financial aid office(s) at your college(s). If there are no corrections needed, keep your SAR for your records.
  • Keep copies of all the forms you send to the financial aid office at your college(s).

April Tips

  • Decide which college you'll attend in the fall. Submit any required paperwork to confirm your decision with the college. Be sure to let the other colleges on your list know immediately that you won't be attending.
  • If required, sign and return your award letter to the college you plan to attend. If you need to take out a student loan, make sure you complete required applications/promissory notes. Borrow wisely. Your award letter will tell you the maximum amount you can borrow. You don't have to borrow the entire amount. Create a budget so you borrow only what you need.
  • Finish strongly – make your final grades a top priority!
  • Have questions? All of ICAN's services are offered at no cost to you!

May Tips

  • Congratulations on your high school graduation!
  • If you haven't decided which college to attend, do so as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you've turned in all necessary documents to the financial aid office at your college of choice, including loan applications and promissory notes. Make sure you return the forms on time if your college has a deadline.
  • Finalize your summer job or volunteer plans. Jobs related to your future career and volunteer work will be great experiences you can add to your resume.

June Tips

  • Find out if your college offers orientation sessions and if so, plan to attend.
  • Let your college's financial aid office know about any scholarships you've received that weren't part of the college's financial aid package.
  • Ask your high school to send your final transcript to the college you've chosen.
  • Save money from your summer job. You'll be glad you did.

July Tips

  • Attend any orientation sessions that your college offers. They're a great opportunity to meet people and get to know the campus.
  • Turn in any loan applications and promissory notes if you haven't already done so.
  • Contact your roommate. Get to know each other and start planning for your room. Decide who will bring the fridge, microwave, TV and other shared items.
  • Check out our "College Packing List" to help make packing less of a chore. Visit
  • Beware of credit card offers! It's easy to get in over your head. You may, however, want one card for emergencies. Discuss options with your parents and be sure to educate yourself.

*Note: The FAFSA and EZ FAFSA are free forms that may be completed without professional assistance via paper or electronic forms provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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