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Plan for the Future

Working men and women in their professions

Plan for the Future

Congratulations on thinking about college. This section will help you achieve that future. Timelines will give you an idea of what to do each year to prepare for college, and other links will take you to specific information about stages of the college planning process.

Education After High School

You have different choices after high school, but many careers require additional education after you finish high school.

Things to Think About

    Planning for college involves answering three main questions:
  1. What do I want to do with my life?
  2. How much education do I need for that career?
  3. What school is the best fit for me?
    If you’re sure about the career you want, you’re in good shape. If you’re not, ask yourself:
  • What do I want to do with my life?
  • How much education do I need for that career?

How much education you need often depends on your chosen career. For example, do you want to be a licensed practical nurse, a registered nurse, or a nurse practitioner? Each requires a different level of education. As your career progresses, you might decide you need more education. If that happens, you can explore your options again.

    What school is the best fit for you depends on such things as:
  • The level of education you want
  • What schools offer that level
  • The size of the school
  • How far the school is from home
  • What kind of students go to each school
  • How much the school costs
  • What financial aid the school can provide
  • What extracurricular activities and special programs the school offers

Dual credit

While you’re in high school, see if a local college or university offers dual credit classes. Those classes let you earn both high school and college credit. Some students actually get an associate’s degree while they’re working on their high school diploma.


Kentucky has a full range of college options: public universities, private schools, community colleges and technical schools.

Programs at public universities generally are four years long and lead to bachelor’s degrees. Some universities also offer two-year programs, and all offer graduate or professional programs.

Private schools have programs similar to those of state universities, but class sizes are often smaller and you may get more personal attention from professors. Some private schools are affiliated with a particular church and offer church-related programs.

Kentucky’s community and technical colleges offer several paths. One leads to an associate’s degree you can use to prepare for a bachelor’s degree. Other paths lead to diplomas, certificates and associate’s degrees to prepare you for the career you want.

Technical schools are privately owned schools that offer specialized training. Some schools specialize in one field, such as nursing; others offer classes in several fields. Most people call these trade schools.

Comparing Schools

If you find more than one school that you think might fit your needs, use our school evaluation chart to compare them. For detailed information about colleges you’re interested in, you can visit the College Navigator from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Transferring (Checklist)

  • Talk with your advisor at your current school.
  • Check with the registrar’s office at your current school to see what its transfer policy is.
  • Decide what schools you’re interested in transferring to.
  • See if your current school has agreements with those schools that spell out what will transfer and how the process works.
  • Apply to the school that you’re most interested in.
  • Contact the financial aid office at that school to find out about financial aid in general and transfer scholarships in particular.

KHEAA College Cost Calculator

Our KHEAA College Cost Calculator is designed to provide an estimate of your net cost of college based some federal and state financial aid you may be eligible to receive. We hope this tool will help you better understand how you might be able to afford your postsecondary education.

In addition to state and federal financial aid resources, you should also research financial aid options available at your institution and in your community. Please talk with your school counselor or another trusted advisor about additional financial aid resources.


Cost of attendance (COA) is the amount it will cost to go to a particular school for a full year (typically two semesters) and includes tuition, room and board, transportation, books and supplies and some fees.

    The average COA for types of Kentucky school are as follows:
  • Kentucky four year: $19635
  • Kentucky two year: $14185
  • Kentucky private college: $32416
  • Kentucky Private For-profit: $26908
You can use one of these figures or enter another amount specific to your situation.


The federal Pell Grant is a need-based grant provided to low-income undergraduate students. Pell amounts can vary based on a student’s EFC. Not all students will qualify for a Pell Grant. The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2023-2024 award year for a full-time undergraduate student with a zero ($0) EFC is $7395.

The amount calculated for this field is $4778, based on EFC and the corresponding award amount on the federal Pell Grant payment schedule. You can use that figure or enter another amount specific to your situation.


The Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) program provides scholarships to students who earn at least a 2.5 GPA each year of attendance at a certified Kentucky high school. You can log in to your MyKHEAA account to view your actual KEES award.

The average KEES award for undergraduate students in Kentucky is $1369. You can use that figure or enter another amount specific to your situation.


College Access Program (CAP) Grants help Kentucky’s financially needy undergraduate students attend eligible public and private colleges and universities, proprietary schools, and technical colleges.

A student must be eligible for the federal Pell Grant to be eligible for the CAP Grant. The CAP Grant award amounts are based on amounts for eligible full-time undergraduate students at a two-year institutions or four-year institutions. The average CAP amount for a two-year institution is $2500 and for a four-year institution is $5300. If you are not eligible for Pell, leave this field blank.


In addition to federal and state financial aid, students may receive other grants and scholarships from their institution, private organizations or employers to help cover college costs. If you anticipate receiving additional grants or scholarships, or if you already know you are receiving other grants and scholarships, enter that total in this field.


The estimate provided by this calculator is based on an undergraduate student attending school full-time. The estimate is also based on information you provide. If any of that information is inaccurate, the estimate may not be valid. The estimate should be used only as a guide and is not an offer of student financial aid, a guaranty of an award, or a commitment of funds.

This tool is designed to produce a reasonably accurate estimate based on the available information. However, the information may change without notice based on a number of factors, including federal and state legislative changes and federal and state regulatory changes. Such changes could make the estimate inaccurate. We assume no liability for any loss or damages incurred as a result of your reliance on the estimate produced by this calculator.

To cover the remaining cost of college, choose an Advantage Education Loan. With the most competitive rates around and the only student loan to offer discounted rates for Kentucky students, Advantage Education Loans fund programs that help students like you prepare and attend higher education.

Exploring Careers

    If you already know what you want to do in life, great. If you’re not sure, think about jobs you might be interested in. Talk with people in those jobs to get an idea of what’s involved. Once you’ve come up with a list of possible careers, ask yourself:
  • How do I prepare for a career in those fields?
  • If I need to go to college or technical school, what should I do now to get ready?
  • When I finish, what jobs will I be qualified to do?
  • Who can help me reach my goal?
  • What resources do I have that can help me prepare for my career?

Base your choices on who you are today. If your interests change, you can always change your pathway.

KY Stats Career ExplorerKentucky Labor Market InformationOccupational Outlook HandbookAmeriCorpsAmerica’s Job BankFederal Apprenticeship

Getting In

    General Undergraduate Admission Process
  • Choose the school or schools to which you want to apply.
  • Visit those schools’ websites, and request information from each school.
  • Gather everything you need to include with your application.
  • Review your application and materials carefully before you submit them.
  • Send your application in by the deadline. Deadlines may be different depending on the type of admission (early or regular) or the major you want.

Your application will be reviewed by the school’s admission committee. The school will let you know its decision. If you’re denied admission, you may be able to appeal.

    College Admission Tips
  • Apply early to make sure you and the college are good fits for each other.
  • Many students apply to multiple colleges, usually between two and five.
  • Get to know each school’s admissions counselors. They can help you through the process.
  • If it’s possible, visit the school in person. Ask if you can sit in on a class or two. That can help you decide if the school is for you.
Getting In: Class of 2024 (with audio)

Planning Timelines

    Our timelines will show you how simple planning for college can be. Regardless of what grade you’re in, you should always:
  • Pay attention to dates and deadlines.
  • Improve your study skills.
  • Improve your time management skills.
  • Improve your money management skills.
  • Follow KHEAA on social media to receive the latest college access and financial aid information.
  • Take advantage of the FREE college access products and services on

Middle School Planner

Register for a MyKHEAA account.

Learn about the KEES program, which lets you earn money for college.

Learn to manage your time.

Think about jobs that interest you.

Check out summer programs available in your community.

Ninth-Grade Planner


Take the most challenging courses you can. (Kentucky’s Pre-College Curriculum)

Get involved in extracurricular activities and community volunteer work.

    Get organized. Create a college access file for:
  • Copies of report cards.
  • Lists of awards and honors.
  • Descriptions of school and community activities, including paid and volunteer work.

Work hard in class. The grades you earn will be part of your final high school GPA and can earn you KEES money.

Register on for a MyKHEAA account and to receive the Your KHEAA College Connection newsletter.


Attend any career days offered by your school or in your community.

Talk with your school counselor and parents about a plan that will prepare you for college.

Research college costs and talk with your parents about saving for college.


Meet with your school counselor to set your sophomore schedule. A tough course load may pay off with scholarships and help you get into the school of your choice.

Ask your counselor about Advanced Placement (AP) and dual credit courses.

Ask your counselor about International Baccalaureate (IB) or Cambridge Advanced International (CAI) courses if your school offers either of those programs.


Continue to explore interests and careers.

Start thinking about the colleges you might like to attend.


Check into summer enrichment programs that interest you.

Attend a summer camp at a college near you.


Use your MyKHEAA account to check your KEES account and to make sure the information is correct. If you find an error, ask your counselor to have it corrected.

Tenth-Grade Planner


Discuss your college plans with your school counselor, parents or other trusted adults.

Review your transcript to make sure you’re on track to graduate and be admitted.

Stay involved in extracurricular activities and community volunteer work. Take leadership roles if possible.


Become familiar with general college admission requirements.

Work hard and develop good study habits. The better your grades, the more KEES money you can earn.

Make notes in your college access file about awards, accomplishments and volunteer work.


Start a file for information about financial aid, schools that interest you and campus life.

Read as many books as possible from a comprehensive reading list. It’s one of the best ways of preparing for the ACT and for college.


Work on your writing skills. No matter what you do in life, you’ll probably have to write.

Start thinking about financial aid. Review the KHEAA College Cost Calculator.

If you live in the Fifth Congressional District, ask your counselor about the Rogers Scholars Program.


Check out March 2 Success, a free website that can help you in language arts, mathematics, and science.

Check out colleges online to find their requirements for admission.


Sign up for challenging classes as a junior. It may help with scholarships and getting into the school of your choice.

Talk with your counselor about AP, IB, CAI and dual credit courses.

Continue to explore interests and careers that you think you might like.

Keep your grades up so you can have the highest GPA and class rank possible.


Begin zeroing in on the type of college you would prefer.

If you’re interested in a military academy, start planning and getting information.

Check out colleges online to find their requirements for admission.


Visit some college campuses and attend college fairs.


Keep putting away money for college.

Consider a summer job. You can save money for college and maybe find out more about your career interests.


Keep learning all summer. Check with your counselor to see what summer classes are available in your area.

If you know college students home for the summer, ask them about college life, especially if they go to a college you’re considering.

Use your MyKHEAA account to check your KEES account and to make sure the information is correct. If you find an error, ask your counselor to have it corrected.

Eleventh-Grade Planner


Discuss your college plans with your school counselor, parents or other trusted adults.

Review your transcript to make sure you’re on track to graduate and be admitted.

Check out March 2 Success, a free web site that can help you in language arts, mathematics, and science.

Talk about college cost, location, housing and other subjects with your parents.

Stay involved in extracurricular activities and community volunteer work. Take leadership roles if possible.


Make a list of schools you’re interested in attending.

Start investigating sources of financial aid. Take note of deadlines and plan accordingly.

Visit college fairs, open houses and schools’ web sites.


Take the PSAT. It’s good practice for the SAT and may qualify you for a National Merit Scholarship.

Consider taking ACT and SAT prep courses. Kentucky requires all juniors in public high schools to take the ACT.


Ask your counselor about the Governor’s Scholars Program.


Keep checking out the colleges in which you’re interested.

Use Affording Higher Education and the Scholarship Search link on to search for scholarships. You’ll have a heads up on which ones to apply for when you’re a senior.

Check out registration dates and times for the ACT and SAT if you want to take them in the spring.


Meet with your counselor to set your senior schedule. Don’t take easy classes.

Talk with your counselor about AP, IB, CAI and dual credit courses.

Talk with people who may be willing to write recommendations for scholarships and colleges. If they’re willing to help, give them a brief list of your academic, extracurricular and volunteer activities for reference.


Look for a summer job, internship or co-op. Summer employment and internships look good on a college application or résumé. The money you earn can help pay application and testing fees.

Plan campus visits for spring break.


Get ready for AP exams.

Work on your college admissions résumé, which highlights your high school accomplishments. It will help when you fill out applications, meet with interviewers, ask for recommendations and apply for scholarships.


Take AP exams.

The deadline to accept or decline a Governor’s Scholars appointment is usually early May.


Talk with college students home for the summer.

Use your MyKHEAA account to check your KEES account and to make sure the information is correct. If you find an error, ask your counselor to have it corrected.

Twelfth-Grade Planner


Meet with your counselor to make sure you’re on track to meet graduation and admissions requirements.

Keep doing your best in your classes.

Narrow your list of schools and request admissions information from each.

Check out the catalog from each school you’re interested in. Most catalogs are online.

Use the KHEAA College Cost Calculator to estimate the price of college.

Most early decision or early action admission deadlines are in October and November.

    Create a college access calendar to track:
  • Test dates, fees and deadlines.
  • College application due dates.
  • Financial aid applications and deadlines.
  • Deadlines for requesting recommendation letters, transcripts and other necessary material. Ask people at least two weeks before you need the material.

Register for the October SAT and/or ACT. You must take the ACT/SAT before you graduate from high school to qualify for a KEES bonus award.

Go to to set up a Federal Student Aid ID and password.


Gather information you need to file the FAFSA. Submit it as soon as possible after Oct. 1. The best way to file is online at

Begin writing admissions essays. Ask a teacher or counselor to review and provide feedback.

Attend college fairs, visit colleges and meet with admission representatives.

Request recommendations from teachers, employers and counselors. Give each person your résumé; a stamped, addressed envelope; and any required forms.

Apply for early decision if that’s your plan. Keep copies of everything you send.


Use Affording Higher Education and the Scholarship Search link on to find scholarships. Apply for all scholarships for which you are eligible.

Complete any college essays you have to submit. Proofread them thoroughly, and ask a teacher or parent to proofread them too.

Make a list of your top choices and begin preparing applications.


Get your recommendation letters from your references and send them thank-you notes.

Finish and submit your college applications. Keep copies of everything you send.

Have your high school send transcripts to the colleges you selected.


If you’re accepted for early decision, withdraw applications to other schools.

Complete any additional financial aid applications required by schools. Keep copies of everything you send.

Contact colleges to make sure they received your application.

Submit mid-year grade reports to schools that require them.


Register for the May SAT or April ACT. This may be your LAST CHANCE to earn your full KEES scholarship award.

Review college acceptance letters and compare financial aid offers.


Make your final choice. Send acceptance letters, any other documents and deposits to the school you chose.

Notify the schools you won’t be attending.

Request course descriptions and schedules from the school you have selected.

Review your Student Aid Report, which will tell you how much your family is expected to pay for your education. If any information is incorrect, make corrections online at

If selected for financial aid verification, provide documents to the college.


Confirm housing arrangements and send in any required deposits.

Take AP exams.


Submit scholarship acceptance forms.

Make sure you’ve returned all financial aid award notices.

Plan to attend freshman orientation and registration.


Make sure your final high school transcript is sent to the school you’ll attend.

Consider getting a summer job to help you pay some of your expenses.

Send thank-you notes to anyone who helped you during the application process.


Make a list of what you’ll need to take with you.

If you haven’t met your roommate, take time to get acquainted.

Check your school’s social media websites to connect with other students.


Make sure you have your housing documentation when you move into the dorm.

Review a campus map. Learn how to get around at your new school.

Buy your books and supplies after the first class meeting.

Work hard in your classes so your college career will be a success.

Precollege Curriculum Checklist

You need to take these classes if you plan to attend a four-year Kentucky public university.


Credits Required

Language Arts

4 credits: English I, II, III, IV or AP English


3 credits: Algebra I, Algebra II, geometry


3 credits: to include life science, physical science and earth/space science (at least one lab course)

Social Studies

3 credits: U.S. history, economics, government, world geography and world civilization


1/2 credit

Physical Education

1/2 credit

History and Appreciation of Visual and Performing Arts

1 credit history and appreciation of visual and performing arts or another arts course that incorporates such content, or students may earn the credit for specialization in an art form

Foreign Language

2 credits or demonstrated competency. May be taken in college.


7 credits (5 rigorous)**

* Students must take math all four years of high school. The fourth math class can be counted as an elective.

** Rigorous electives should be at least as challenging as the courses required in the minimum diploma requirements. Electives should be in social studies, science, math, language arts, arts and humanities, foreign language, and above the introductory level in agriculture, industrial technology, business, marketing, family and consumer sciences, health sciences, and technology education and career pathways. Electives in physical education and health are limited to one-half unit each.

Entrance and Placement Tests

Most colleges in Kentucky require students to take the ACT or SAT to be admitted, although some colleges are now test optional. If you take the ACT or SAT, you can earn a KEES bonus if your score is high enough. Remember: The bonus is based on the highest composite score you get on a test you take before you graduate.

You can buy books or online guides to help you prepare for the ACT or SAT. Many libraries have study guides you can check out or use at the library. Some high schools and public libraries offer ACT and SAT prep classes.

College Admission

Not all colleges have the same admissions process. The more common are:

Rolling Admissions

Under this process, students are evaluated when their completed applications are received. You should complete your application as soon as possible to make sure the school has a space for you.

Regular Admissions

This process is the one most commonly used, with deadlines generally falling between December 1 and March 15. You’ll usually be notified in March or April if you’ve been accepted.

Early Action

In this process, the school requires you to apply early, generally in October or November. You’ll usually have an answer by mid-December.

Early Decision

With early decision, you make a commitment to enroll in a college if it accepts you. You have to withdraw your applications to other colleges. Like early action, you must apply early, and you’ll usually learn your fate in December. Go this route only if you’re absolutely sure you want to attend that school.


The most important factor in getting admitted to the college of your choice is your high school grades. But colleges also look at the courses you took. If you got all A’s during high school but avoided challenging courses, it may count against you. For example, it’s better to get a B in AP calculus than an A in consumer math so you can pad your GPA.

    Schools may also consider:
  • Class rank: This is where you stand in relation to the other students in your class. In addition to admissions, it can also be important for certain scholarships.
  • Standardized test scores: In Kentucky, the most often used standardized test is the ACT. The SAT is also widely used. Your scores may also be important when it comes to financial aid. More and more schools are going test optional, meaning you don’t have to submit your ACT or SAT scores.
  • Essay: Most often used by nonprofit private schools, essays let admissions counselors learn more about you get a feel for your writing ability. Here are some tips on essay writing.
  • Letters of recommendation: Letters from teachers, counselors and other adults will give the admissions staff a more-rounded picture of you as a student and person.
  • Interview: Like essays, interviews are most often associated with nonprofit private colleges. It gives someone representing the school — a staff member or a graduate — a chance to talk with you one on one, in person or on the phone. It also gives you a chance to ask questions about the school.
  • Extracurricular activities and volunteer work: The clubs, teams and community work you’re involved in tell the school a lot about you as a person. Generally, it’s better to do a few things in depth than so many things you can’t give any of them the time they deserve.

Student Resources

KHEAA provides many free resources to Kentucky students and families as they look to their future.


Students, families and counselors have access to numerous publications from KHEAA. Some are available in hard copy, while others are available only online.

To request copies of any of the printed publications listed above, please use our Order Form or email us.

Federal Student Aid Estimator

You can use the Student Aid Estimator to get an idea of your eligibility for federal student aid. That will give you a better overview of what your net cost will be.

Kentucky Students’ Right to Know

The Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS) collects and links data about education and workforce efforts in the state. The Council on Postsecondary Education oversees Kentucky’s state universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. CPE also licenses non-profit and for-profit higher education institutions to operate in Kentucky.

Your KHEAA College Connection Newsletters

These newsletters provide Kentucky students and parents information about education, financial aid, financial literacy and other topics. You can sign up to receive an email when a new newsletter is posted.

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