It’s financial aid time for seniors
Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 2:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 2:43 p.m.
The senior year of high school can be daunting for parents and their students.
For parents, it can be a money pit, but for students, there is a risk of catching senioritis, a crippling malady that often strikes students in the middle of the senior year. The symptoms can include laziness, poor study habits, repeated absences and tardiness, and a prevailing delusional attitude that they have already graduated from high school.
“They don’t want to get senioritis,” said Adele Turnage, assistant principal of curriculum at Eastside High School. She said it’s important for seniors to finish the year strong because colleges and universities look at transcripts, including final transcripts, to see if the student has stayed on track academically.
Sylvia Walker, a guidance counselor at Eastside, said high school seniors need to stay focused on their academics and not assume that because they’ve been accepted to college, they’re finished with high school.
“A school can rescind an offer of admission,” said Walker, adding that admission to college is conditional until the school receives final transcripts. Walker said final exams will take place May 22-24, and students need to remember to place their “Final Transcript Request” before they leave school at the end of the day on May 24. She said transcripts are not automatically sent without a request.
So, to help parents and students navigate the last leg of the high school career, here are some tips to keep your child focused and to help you budget your money.
Because the Florida Automated System for Transferring Educational Records, or FASTER, is down, Turnage said schools are having to mail a hard copy of transcripts. So students needing transcripts should make their requests now or early in January. She said the FASTER system is being repaired and it could be mid-January before it is available.
Walker also recommends parents and students begin the financial aid process on Jan. 1 by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, by visiting www.fafsa.ed.gov. Once the application has been completed and received, a Student Aid Report, or SAR, will be made available to the colleges listed on the FAFSA.
To complete the FAFSA, parents can use information from 2011 tax forms and then update the FAFSA when they have filed their 2012 income taxes. Walker said parents should try to file their 2012 income taxes in January or early February and certainly before March 15, when many colleges make their financial aid awards.
Walker said two financial aid help sessions will be offered in February at Eastside to help students and their parents complete the FAFSA.
Also in January, Walker said, students must complete the 2013-2014 Florida Student Financial Aid form by visiting www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/ and clicking on “State Grants, Scholarships and Applications” and then “Student Application.”
Walker said there will be a free senior trip on Jan. 25 to Santa Fe College that includes a campus tour, an orientation program and career information. Eastside will provide transportation.
To be ready for college, Walker said students should watch for orientation guidelines and dorm room and meal plan deadlines. Graduating seniors also should choose courses for the summer or fall term.
Turnage said costs associated with basic expenses of senior year can be potentially as high as $700-$1000, but that amount does not include extras, such as prom dresses, tuxedo rentals, dinner before the prom, hair-styling and make-up.
Below are estimates of costs for the second half of the school year:
—Grad Bash: Tickets are $110-$120 each.
—Prom: Tickets are $35, but the fee goes up $5 each week after tickets go on sale. Prom dresses can range in cost from $89-$400, with tuxedo rental costing $99-$200.
—Graduation announcements: $35-$100.
—Graduation: Tickets are not needed and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis for the ceremony, which will be held on June 1 at the O’Connell Center on the University of Florida campus.
For more information, contact the guidance office at your child’s school.