By Sumiko Martinez and Bryan Lee

One of the biggest differences between coming back to school as a high school senior and every other year is that this is the year when the idea of college starts to get a lot more real and a lot more exciting. But as you might have guessed, it also gets a lot more demanding. There will be quite a few different applications that need to be filled out and turned in on time in order to make sure all your ducks are in a row: scholarship applications, admission applications, and the all-important Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA (it’s the application you fill out and submit in order to get money for college).

Here’s a rough order of operations for the various applications:

  • Start (or continue) looking and applying for scholarships. The more scholarships you’re able to get, the less money you’ll have to find elsewhere!
  • Apply for college admission. Be sure to check the admission deadlines for the schools you’re interested in attending.
  • File a FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is the application you submit in order to get financial aid to help pay for college. You can submit it as early as October 1st, 2016. The sooner you submit your FAFSA, the sooner the information gets to your college, and the sooner you’ll be able to find out what financial aid you qualify for.
  • Apply for college scholarships. Once you have been accepted to a college (or multiple colleges), seek out and apply for scholarships offered by the college.

Keep in mind that every college has different deadlines for admissions, financial aid, and scholarships. Keep an eye on your college’s website and contact people at your college to be sure you don’t miss anything. And don’t be afraid to contact the colleges to follow up on scholarships, financial aid, or anything else you have questions about!

Sumiko Martinez is a Community Outreach Officer with the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA). Learn more about Sumiko at, and connect with her on Twitter @SumikoMartinez or Instagram@sumiko.martinez.

Bryan Lee is the Outreach Social and Digital Media Officer for Step Up to Higher Education Utah and the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority.