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Freshman Year

   In the Fall, all freshman will take the PSAT 8/9. This is the freshman level of the SAT college admission exam. 
Grade Point Average
   The most important thing that a freshman can do is to get off to a good start academically. College test scores are directly related to classroom performance. College admission is based on academic performance and college admission exams. 

Sophomore Year

   In the fall, all sophomores will take the PSAT, this is the practice test for the SAT.  It prepares students for the SAT in their Senior year.  It will give them college readiness scores and suggest improvement strategies. 
   Continue to stress academic performance. 
   Admission and scholarship people are looking for quality not quantity. Leadership positions and volunteerism receive the greatest consideration in admission and selection.
Consider programs such as CollegeNow for your Junior year.  Students need to register for CollegeNow and take the placement test for HCC in the Spring of Sophomore year. See more information on CollegeNow by selecting the CollegeNow tab on the website.
Career-tec is another program to consider for your Junior year.  Interested students need to register in the spring of Sophomore year for this program.  See more information on Career-tec by selecting the tab on the website.

Junior Year

 Practice SAT
   In the fall, all Juniors take the PSAT/NMSQT.  This is a practice SAT and is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.  
   Continue to build your resume.
Students in the spring of Junior year should be starting on college visits and narrowing down what their post-graduation plans will be.  It is still very flexible at this point, but it is time to begin the discussions.  College applications should be started in the summer prior to Senior year.

Senior Year

   Seniors take the SAT during the school day in October.  This is a complete SAT and satisfies the requirement of some colleges that want an SAT or ACT score.  
Senior Information
  We will do our best to notify parents of area workshops on FAFSA, College Admissions, Apprenticeships, and other pertinent information for the post-graduation plans of students.  
**Seniors should make sure that they ask for recommendation letters weeks in advance for college and scholarship applications.      
Please Note is an excellent resource for students and parents. It is everything you want to know about college planning, selection, admission and finance. 

Financial Aid

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) 
   To apply for Federal or State financial aid, including student loans, students and parents must complete the FAFSA. This should be done as soon as possible after October 1 (see update below).
The home page at shows you step by step what to do: 
 1. Before beginning a FAFSA
   FAFSA on the web worksheet, apply for pin # (parent and student)
 2. Filling out the FAFSA
   Fill out the form, open saved FAFSA or make corrections, signing    electronically with your pin
 3. FAFSA follow-up
   Check the status, make corrections, view and print your Student Aid  Report.

Key Points From Guidance Office

  1. File as early as possible after October 1.  Especially, if your student is attending a college in Illinois
  2. Federal - PELL Grant - money is available to all who qualify.  State - MAP Grant - money is limited (currently,$0 because there is no budget).  When approved, the money is issued until it runs out (in 2014, that was February 22).
  3. If you will not have your taxes ready by early February, you can file using last years and marking the box that you will be filing corrected tax information later. 
  4. Contact your college financial aid office for details or call Kathy Bangasser at Highland - 815-599-3486.
  5. New IRS Data Retrieval Tool is now available.  This will automatically transfer your tax information to the appropriate line on the FAFSA.
  6. The FAFSA is strictly tax data and financial information at the time it is filed.  Changes to your circumstances, new job, lost of job, divorce ,medial expenses, etc. are dealt with at the college you attend.
  7. Be aware that all college Financial Aid Offices have procedures for Special Circumstances. 


  • Keep copies of all your forms and information.
  • Work closely with the Financial Aid Office at the school.  If it is a large University, find one person in the Office and establish a relationship with them.
  • Kathy Bangasser at HCC is available to answer financial aid questions for any student in HCC's district--even if the student is not attending HCC.

Website for Sorting Colleges by Price:

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education has created an invaluable tool that you can use to sort 3,000 colleges by price. Using this online resource, you can search for colleges by price nationally or by state. You can search by a specific school, by state, private or public. It's also useful to see what each college charges for room and board. This varies greatly from school to school. 
    Click here to access the site.


January–March is the period when many colleges and organizations offer scholarships.
   The first place students should check is with the financial office or foundation office at the schools to which they have been accepted (HCC  usually makes their scholarships available online in February with April 1 due  dates). It is also time to redo a scholarship search at A  number of local agencies will be offering scholarships through the high school which will be handed out to seniors in class.
Aquin's CEEB number is 141970.