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 Local high schools are into their second semester and college-bound juniors and seniors may be feeling the pressure to get ready for the transition to their post-high school education.

 Whether looking at a technical school or liberal arts college, schools are helping them prepare for the next step in their education. This includes important deadlines and local scholarship opportunities.

 This time of year, students should be applying (or have already applied) to the schools they want to attend, said Lake Fenton High School Principal Chris Belcher. He added that they need to keep their grades up, because colleges look at their grades even after students have applied and been accepted to colleges. “Some seniors also are prepping for the AP tests in the spring in which they can earn college credit,” Belcher said.

 Holly Area Schools Superintendent Scott Roper said staff conducts one-on-one meetings with every senior to make sure they’re on track to graduate. They discuss their transition plan and provide additional support as needed. They review graduation requirements and college prep steps with the entire senior class every March.

Scholarships

 Most districts will have local scholarships available for their students, for which they can apply along with statewide and national scholarships.

 These tend to be posted on school district websites and communicated directly to seniors.

 Roper said there is a list of application forms available in the counseling office. They distribute the list and help students apply at their annual scholarship meeting, which is Feb. 26.

 Prospective colleges also have scholarships. The University of Michigan-Flint (UM-Flint) has a list for students, and even an application website for incoming and current students to apply for several scholarships with one application, according to Bill Barker with the UM-Flint Office of Communications and Marketing.

Important dates

 When it comes to important dates, there are few blanket answers. Each college may have a different deadline for registration, application and financial aid.

 At UM-Flint for example, the late registration deadline just passed on Jan. 17. Spring registration is likely open at many colleges. UM-Flint is open now until April 28.

 Check your prospective college websites about deadlines.

FAFSA

 The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is one of the most important forms to fill out when preparing for college. It determines which federal grants or loans for which a student may qualify.

 Michigan residents should apply by March 31 to be considered for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship (MCS) and the Michigan Tuition Grant (MTG).

 The current FAFSA form will expire June 30. However, according to the Department of Education (DOE) there are other more important deadlines, like your college application and state aid deadlines.

 The DOE suggests looking at the earliest deadline for a college you’re interested in, and plan to finish the FAFSA in time for that. The University of Michigan, for example, is March 31 for the May 1 enrollment deadline to receive financial aid offers.

 To complete the FAFSA form, students first need a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. Go to fsaid.ed.gov to establish an FSA ID.

 Then fill out a FAFSA form at fafsa.gov.

What about juniors?

 Juniors should be researching which schools they are interested in and begin making visits. “This can be a long process for some as it is crucial to make sure the school has the programs they are interested in as well as has the environment they are looking for,” Belcher said. “They should also be prepping for the spring SAT test given in April as this is one of the big three criteria that schools will use for admission.”

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