Mapping Your Future: A checklist of applications to complete for a college education


A checklist of applications to complete for a college education

By Catherine Mueller

January 04, 2023

By the first day of college classes, a student has completed a lot of paperwork to begin their educational journey.

Completing the necessary applications and forms for a college education is an accomplishment in and of itself — even before you step on campus. Although the paperwork can seem overwhelming, it's often much easier if you are prepared with all the information you may need.

Also, creating a list of the applications and forms can ensure that you don't miss an important step in the college preparation process.

Among the documents to complete are:

  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – By completing this form at, you will be considered for federal financial aid, and in many cases, the FAFSA is necessary for state, institutional, and private financial aid.
  • Admissions – Each college or school you consider attending will have an admissions application. However, if you are applying to multiple institutions, you may be able to complete one application. For example, many institutions will accept the Common App or your state may offer one application for all state institutions.
  • Scholarships – Most scholarships require a separate application and sometimes an essay is requested. Make sure you research deadlines to ensure that you submit the application prior to any deadlines.
  • CSS Profile – Several institutions and some scholarship foundations require students to complete a CSS Profile to determine eligibility for some financial aid programs. The form is like the FAFSA but may ask for more financial information than is requested on the FAFSA. Each institution or organization will have its own deadline for submission of the CSS Profile.

In addition to the applications, you may need to complete other forms, such as health forms or waivers, required by the school or college you plan to attend. Once you’ve been admitted to an institution, you will likely receive a letter or email, listing the forms and steps you need to complete to finalize your admissions process.