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Planning for College

Parents’ College Planning Timelines

If you’re thinking about your child attending college, you should browse through our Parent College Planner Timelines. Here are the most helpful tips for college planning.

Start saving for college now. You can use the College Savings Calculator to estimate how much you’ll need to save each month to cover the future cost of a college education.

Meet key deadlines. Remember that different colleges will have different deadlines for applications, deposits, academic requirements, financial aid, etc.

  • FAFSA Deadline. Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 of your student’s senior year. Kentucky grants are awarded to eligible applicants on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted.

Complete the FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the most important step to apply for KHEAA grants and other major state and federal aid programs. For more information, see the FAFSA section on kheaa.com, visit www.fafsa.gov (an online chat is available) or call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). You can also talk with your student’s counselor or a financial aid officer at the school your student plans to attend.

  • Students who don’t plan to enter college until the fall after they graduate from high school should file the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1.
  • Students who will graduate in December and enter college in the spring, or spring graduates who plan to enroll in classes that start before July 1, should file the FAFSA as soon as possible.

Know your EFC. Your expected family contribution (EFC) is how much your family is expected to contribute toward your student’s college education each year. As a general rule, the lower a family’s EFC, the more financial aid a student is eligible for. Your EFC is based on a formula set by Congress, using the information you provide on the FAFSA.

Apply for scholarships and grants. These generally don’t have to be repaid, so students should try to get as many scholarships and grants as possible. You and your student can explore scholarships on our Scholarship Search.

Understand your loan options. The majority of students, however, now need loans to help pay college costs. Many parents also take out loans to help their children. That means parents and students need to be informed consumers. The most common federal loans are:

  • Federal Stafford Loans, provided to eligible students, who are responsible for repaying the loans.
  • Federal PLUS Loans, available to students in graduate and professional schools and to the parents of undergraduate students. PLUS Loans require a credit check, although the standards are not as stringent as those for private loans.

Stafford and PLUS Loans are made by the U.S. Department of Education. The interest rates and repayment terms are usually better than those of nonfederal loans, though parents might want to do some comparison shopping before taking out a PLUS Loan.

Other loans include:

  • State-based student loans, which are offered by nonprofit public agencies. For more information about Kentucky’s state-based loans, visit www.kheslc.com. They may require a credit check.
  • Private loans, sometimes called alternative loans, from banks, credit unions and other lenders. These lenders will require credit checks.