Parent/Family Plan: 12th Grade

Senior year is a whirlwind of activities.

This is a big year for your child as they balance schoolwork, perhaps a job and extracurricular activities, and the college application, financial aid, and scholarship processes. Use the list below to help you and your child successfully navigate this important time.


  • Visit college websites and campuses together.
    If you can, make plans to check out the campuses of colleges in which your child is interested. Use the Campus Visit Checklist to help get the most out of these experiences.
  • Ask how you can help your senior finalize their college list.
    You can help them choose which colleges to apply to by weighing how well each college meets their needs or career goals, for example. Find out more about how to finalize a college list.
  • Find each college’s actual cost.
    Once your 12th-grader has a list of a few colleges they are interested in, use websites such as CSU’s Paying for CollegeFAFSA4caster, or the College Board’s Net Price Calculator together to find out the potential for financial aid and the true out-of-pocket cost— or net price—of each college.
  • Encourage your child to get started on applications.
    They can get the easy stuff out of the way now by starting a file of the information needed for applications, filling in as much required information on college applications as possible. Visit (Internal Applications Resource Website) and read about how to get started on applications.
  • Gather financial documents:
    To apply for most financial aid, your child will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You'll need your most recent tax returns and an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA, which opens Oct. 1.


  • Encourage your child to meet with the school counselor.
    This year, they will work with the counselor to complete and submit college applications. Learn more about the counselor's role in applying to college. Students who qualify for free/reduced lunch programs can also receive fee waivers from their counselor for college applications as well as SAT and ACT tests.
  • Attend college fairs such as North Coast College and Career Expo, September 20th, 2018 at Eureka High School. There are special workshops for 12th graders and parents/families.
  • Create a calendar with your child.
    This should include application deadlines and other important dates. Your child can find specific colleges’ deadlines in College Search. If your child saves colleges to a list there, they can get a custom online calendar that shows those colleges’ deadlines.
  • Review SAT, ACT, and CAASPP scores together.
    SAT & ACT are used for college admissions, and SAT, ACT, and CAASPP are used for college placement (internal link) into the first year math and English classes. Take a look at each college’s freshman profile to get a sense of how competitive of a gpa & exam score applicants generally need to be accepted. 
  • Help your child prepare for college admission tests.
    Many seniors retake college admission tests, such as the SAT & ACT (internal link), in the fall. Learn more about helping your 12th-grader prepare for admission tests (Internal link).
  • Help your child find and apply for scholarships.
    Students can find out about scholarship opportunities from the school counselor. Your high school student will need to request and complete scholarship applications and submit them on time. Learn more about scholarships (internal link).
  • Offer to look over your senior’s college applications.
    But remember that this is your child’s work so remain in the role of adviser and proofreader and respect their voice.
  • Fill out the FAFSA to apply for aid beginning Oct. 1.
    The government and many colleges use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to award aid. Now it’s easier than ever to fill out this form because you can automatically transfer your tax information online from the IRS to the FAFSA.
  • Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®, if required.
    If your child needs to submit the PROFILE to a college or scholarship program, be sure to find out the priority deadline and submit it by that date. Read How to Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.


  • Work together to apply for financial aid.
    Have your child contact the financial aid offices at the colleges in which he or she is interested to find out what forms students must submit to apply for aid. Make sure he or she applies for aid by or before any stated deadlines. Funds are limited, so the earlier you apply, the better.
  • Learn about college loan options together.
    Borrowing money for college can be a smart choice — especially if your high school student gets a low-interest federal loan. Learn more about the parent's/family’s role in borrowing money.
  • Encourage your senior to take SAT Subject Tests.
    These tests can showcase your child’s interests and achievements — and many colleges require or recommend that applicants take one or more Subject Tests. Read more about SAT Subject Tests.
  • Encourage your child to take AP Exams.
    If your 12th-grader takes AP or other advanced classes, have them talk with teachers now about taking these tests in May. Read more about the AP Program.


  • Help your child process college responses.
    Once your child starts hearing back from colleges about admission and financial aid, they may need your support to decide what to do. Read about how to choose a college. Also, remind your student to check their email often so they don’t miss an important college communication or deadline.
  • Review financial aid offers together.
    Your 12th-grader will need your help to read through financial aid award letters and figure out which package works best. Be sure your child pays attention to and meets any deadlines for acceptance. Get more information on financial aid awards.
  • Help your child complete the paperwork to accept a college’s offer of admittance.
    Once your child has decided which college to attend, they will need to review the offer, accept a college’s offer, mail a tuition deposit and submit other required paperwork. Learn more about your high school senior's next steps.