Senior Year Timeline

Delawaregoestocollege_Senior_Timeline_01Choose the path that’s right for you and your future, including a 4-year college degree, a 2-year college degree, trade school, apprenticeship, military, or certificate program. Start preparing. (Download a PDF of the Senior Year Timeline.)

September – October: Get Information

Talk to your counselor or advisor: Learn about the different opportunities for your future. There can be many paths to a career, such as getting a certificate, completing an apprenticeship, or earning an associate or bachelor’s degree. You need to find out what each one may cost and what salary you can earn with different credentials.

Ask your counselor about fee waivers for college applications and SAT/ACT tests: Your parent/guardian can authorize your school to use your USDA Free and Reduced Price Meals status for SAT/ACT and college application fee waivers. Not sure if you qualify? Check with your school. Register for the SAT/ACT. It’s not too late.

Organize program requirements: List all application deadlines, testing and financial aid requirements for each program that interests you. Use a checklist to stay organized:

Request letters of recommendation: Reach out to your contacts and send them a list of your accomplishments to include in the letter.

Prepare for College Application Month: October 16 – November 17, 2017

Write your application essays: Draft your essays and request feedback from parents, teachers, or other trusted adults.

Apply to Delaware colleges for free: All Delaware colleges are waiving application fees from October 16 through the end of November. Attend special events at your school to learn more about college and fill out applications during your school’s College Application Week.

Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): Finish the FAFSA between October 1 and March 1 to maximize the financial aid you may receive. Go to Add the schools that you are applying to on your FAFSA. This is a FREE application.

Check the FAFSA priority deadlines: Schools have different deadlines. Submit your FAFSA by those dates. Funds are limited and may be awarded on a first-come basis:

Search and apply for scholarships: Start at You should complete your FAFSA by March to meet most scholarship deadlines.

Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®: Some programs and colleges require this to see if you qualify for grants and scholarships. Applications open October 1.

Review SEED/Inspire deadlines: Delaware high school graduates must start college in the fall following graduation to be eligible.

  • SEED Scholarship: You need at least a 2.5 GPA (80%) and can go tuition-free for your associate degree at the University of Delaware or Delaware Tech (up to 6 semesters).
  • Inspire Scholarship: You need a 2.75 GPA (80%) and can receive approximately $3,900 per year (up to 6 semesters) at Delaware State University.

Check your email often (including your spam folder): Do not use your high school email address as it deactivates when you graduate. Pay attention to deadlines and information about scholarships, financial aid, deposits, orientation, medical forms and housing. Deadlines are important!

November – December: Apply

Research a military career: If you are considering the military, talk to recruiters to discuss your options. You will need to consider: branches, careers, time commitments and education offerings. You will need to take the ASVAB test. Plan to apply to a few colleges as a back-up plan.

Work on your applications: Some schools have deadlines as early as November.

Continue applying for scholarships and completing your FAFSA!

Check out the Academic Common Market: You may be able to pay in-state tuition at some out-of-state universities. Go to to search schools and programs.

Send your SAT, ACT and AP scores: These scores can help with scholarships, course placement or selection to certain programs or majors.

Attend a college fair: Military, certificate and apprenticeship programs also participate.

  • New Castle County: November 14, 2017, 6:30-9 p.m., Carpenter Center, UD; Financial aid presentation is from 6:15-7 p.m.
  • Kent County: November 15, 2017, 7-9 p.m., Polytech HS
  • Sussex County: November 13, 2017, 7-9 p.m., Sussex Tech HS

Consider the Common Application: More than 500 colleges use this form. Many colleges waive application fees if you have a fee waiver or explain that you can’t afford it. Check for the programs and colleges you are considering.

Send transcripts: Ask your counselor to send your transcript to your chosen programs or colleges.

January – March: Apply for Financial Aid

Complete your FAFSA by March 1 to get the maximum aid for which you qualify.

Look at trade programs: If you are considering a trade or apprenticeship program, attend an info session. Learn about what type of career the program will lead to, the salary you can expect and what the cost will be. Then meet with an advisor to schedule your entrance exam and complete any other requirements. Remember to ask about job placement after completion to ensure you choose the best option.

April – May: Decide!

Contact the school’s financial aid office with any questions: Be certain of how much aid you will be required to pay back. You will need money for non-tuition items: housing, meal plans, books, transportation to/from school, lab/art supplies and computer. Plan for these expenses.

Compare award letters: Examine the financial aid packages offered to you. Some schools may be more affordable than you think!

Choose the best fit: Be sure to weigh the cost of attendance with the salary you might earn to choose the best fit academically and financially.

June – August: Prepare for Your Next Steps

Send transcripts: Ask your counselor to send your transcript to your chosen programs or colleges.

Graduate: Stay on track and celebrate!