As we approach the end of calendar year 2010, it’s a good idea to turn our eyes to the future and start thinking about our 2008 financial aid efforts. Here are 5 strategies to help you make the most of the waning days of 2010 with payoffs in the year to come.
1. See an expert. Most community banks and credit unions offer access to a certified financial planner for little or no charge, making them a great, hidden resource for figuring out your finances. Take the opportunity and an hour or two on a weeknight or weekend to see one and review your personal finances. Get a sense for where you are and how your finances are currently set up.
2. Start writing scholarship essays. Scholarship season really starts in earnest in January of each year, and the sooner you can get your applications in to a scholarship foundation, the sooner you can move onto the next application. Do your research for which scholarships would be appropriate to apply to, and download their applications. The most time consuming part of the scholarship search is the essay, so start writing now!
3. Do your budget. January is often thought of as the time to embark on resolutions, but now is the time to plan for those resolutions so you can hit the ground running after the champagne’s gone.
4. Set goals. Set measurable, achievable goals for yourself in 2011, like a scholarship application a weekend. Be sure to have a calendar set up so you don’t miss any deadlines.
5. Get ready to file your FAFSA. The FAFSA process kicks off on January 1, but having your IRS 1040 mostly done will speed up the process, as will doing the FAFSA worksheets. Run through our FAFSA tutorials here on FAFSAonline.com and make notes of where you have questions – then contact your financial aid officer or attend a College Goal Sunday event to get those questions answered!
by Gemma Maddock