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Decision time.

It’s all come down to this – the last weeks of the last year of your pre-college life. Time to watch the mailbox like an academically-minded hawk, rank and re-rank your top choices of schools to attend and make the all-important call. If you’ve been following this timeline so far, you’re in great shape. Can’t get to everything? Make sure to at least hit the first few.

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    Look for your Student Aid Report.


    Your SAR contains federal financial aid information, and it should come within a few weeks after you send in your FAFSA. (If it doesn’t, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.) Naturally, if you provided an e-mail address when you applied, you’ll get an electronic response that will probably arrive sooner. Either way, once you’ve got the Report, review it carefully to make sure it’s correct and complete. The schools you listed on your FAFSA should have received a copy of the report too, but you’ll still want to contact each one’s financial aid office to make certain that your application is complete, and ask what else you need to do to establish and maintain your eligibility for financial aid. (They may need your tax forms, for example.) Oh, and keep a copy for your own records as well.

    Federal Student Aid: The Student Aid Report

     
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    Stalk the mailman.


    Those college acceptance letters ought to be streaming in about now. So should some financial award letters. Sort through them all, compare each offer to decide which sounds best to you, and celebrate: You did it.

     
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    Get the word out.


    Now that you’ve made your ultimate decision about which college to attend, it’s time to let them know – and send them a deposit accordingly. It’s also good form to notify the other schools that you won’t be attending. That way they still like you if you decide you’d like to switch in a few semesters.

     
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    Keep up with the new deadlines.


    You’re in, which is great. It’s also your cue to make note of some new dates – things like getting your housing figured out at the new school, filing your financial aid forms, getting a parking pass if you need one…


     
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    Apply your APtitude.


    At the end of the semester, you want to take your AP examinations. After all, they can land you college credit, advanced placement or both at 9 out of 10 schools across the country, so it’s definitely worth a shot – and a solid effort on your part

    The College Board: About the AP Program

     
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    Have a great summer.


     

    Whether you’re working hard on the job, taking a few extra classes, or just vegging out in the front lawn for a little while to celebrate the results of your efforts, have at it. You deserve a break, and you’ve got a big year coming up in just a few months. Enjoy!

    The Art of Doing Nothing

     

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Download the whole timeline in a handy PDF. (161 kb)