Community Foundation of St. Joseph County

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Getting Ready for College

Resources to Help Students Through the College Application Process

In order to help high school students through the often complex process of preparing for and applying to colleges, we've put together this page of helpful resources. You'll find information on the tests you need to take, available scholarships from many organizations in addition to the Community Foundation, cost estimators, and a list of tips complied from years of feedback from students just like you. Applying to colleges can be a very stressful time, and we hope these resources will make it a little easier.

FAFSA: www.fafsa.ed.gov

  • Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to be considered for federal and state student aid.
  • Application becomes available October 1 and should be filled out no later than March 10 for Indiana students to be considered for state-based aid in Indiana.
  • Check with your intended colleges to make sure you meet any of their application deadlines that may be different from FAFSA deadlines.

The College Board: www.collegeboard.com

  • Prep and register for the SAT.
  • Fill out the CSS Financial Aid Profile (required by some colleges and universities). There is a cost to complete this form.
  • You can search for scholarships, internships, grants, and loans that match your education level, talents and background.

ACT: www.actstudent.org

  • At this site, you can prep and register for the ACT exam. Some students elect to take the ACT exam in lieu of or in addition to the SAT exam. All students interested in continuing their education beyond high school need to begin the SAT or ACT process no later than their junior year of high school.

Scholarship Foundation of St. Joseph County: www.scholarshipfoundation.org

  • This nonprofit organization is separate from the Community Foundation, and has its own scholarships for students residing in St. Joseph County.

Indiana College Costs Estimator: www.indianacollegecosts.org/

  • This site helps undergraduate students get an estimate of college costs and learn where the money is.  It also features "Ask the Expert" sessions and allows you to compare Indiana colleges and universities side-by-side.

TRiO Programs: http://trio.nd.edu/college-prep-resources/

  • The US Department of Education's TRiO Programs are federal outreach and student services programs designed to ensure equal educational opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race, ethnic background or economic circumstance. Collectively, these programs assist young people from low-income families and potential first-generation college students as they progress from middle school, high school, college and beyond. To learn more about our local program, go to their website.

SSACI: www.in.gov/ssaci

  • The Division of Student Financial Aid (SFA), formerly known as the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana, provides tools and information for state-based aid. 

FAST WEB: www.fastweb.com

  • This is a free online tool that matches students with potential scholarship opportunities.

Tips to Remember:

  • It's never too early to begin thinking about college. Don't wait until the last minute to complete forms. Prepare a game plan at the beginning of your senior year, listing important due dates for various forms and applications. Make phone calls and send emails to gather information, and never be afraid to ask questions. Guidance counselors, teachers, admissions officers, and financial aid staff can be a wealth of information if you seek them out.

  • Most scholarship applications request the same information, just in a different form. It's to your advantage to fill out as many applications as possible to increase the likelihood of receiving a scholarship.

  • Recalling all of the activities you have participated in can be the most difficult part of completing both scholarship applications and college admission forms. Begin early by making a list of all school activities, community service, and outside jobs and organizations that you've been involved with, along with the hours you participated and any leadership positions you've held. Keep your list handy so you can add to it as things come to mind.

  • There is no right or wrong answer to essay questions. Those reading your essays want to see if you can articulate your thoughts in a concise and clear manner. Make sure your work is free of grammatical and spelling errors.

  • You are your only “cheerleader”! Be specific when listing activities. Explain any acronyms, since those reading the application will most likely not be versed in all of the clubs and activities available at each school. Activities that may seem minor to you are important in describing what you've done over the last four years. Have someone else proof your application to look for omissions and errors; they will be able to provide valuable feedback about the content you include.