1-2 months after submitting your college applications
Submit any applications for financial aid, scholarships, private loans, etc.
In December, file your taxes (or have your parents file their taxes). You’ll want to have the information in your tax returns in order to complete FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in January (when that year’s FAFSA form becomes available). If, for some reason, you’re not able to complete your taxes in December, estimate the figures as best you can. You’ll be able to update the form later after you’ve filed your tax returns. (You’ll receive an email reminder to do so in April.)
You may also have your college interview during this time. See these tips on how to prepare.
In early January, fill out FAFSA (available Jan 1). It’s necessary in order to get government loans for tuition, and you might have to wait 6 weeks to receive a response to your FAFSA submission, so the earlier you submit it, the better. In a few months, you’ll be in a better position to determine whether a school’s financial aid offer is sufficient if you know the amount of money you’re getting from other sources. (Schools won’t always give you a lot of time to decide on their financial aid offers, so you want to have the relevant information as soon as possible.)
Also in early January, provide schools with updated transcripts reflecting your grades from the fall. (You’ll need to request another transcript from your school’s guidance office.)