Application Checklists

Overview

Applying to college is a lot of work and may seem overwhelming. Don't worry, though, in this section are application checklists for applying to community college and four-year undergraduate programs, which are meant to help you and your ambassador make a plan and stay on track.

Community College Application Checklist

Required steps

  • Complete an application: Community colleges tend to have an online application process. At the same time, you might have to visit the campus in person to drop off documents.

  • Gather your high school transcript or GED: Your college may or may not require documentation from your previous institution of learning.

  • Make a copy of your DD214 and MOS transcript/diploma: You could receive college credit for your military service.

  • Fill Out the FAFSA: Short for the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” (https://fafsa.ed.gov). You will need to fill out the FAFSA to see if you are eligible for university and federal financial aid.

  • Apply for other financial aid: Some states, such as California, will waive community college fees for veterans.

  • Ask for an application fee waiver: Call or email the school admissions office to see if they offer a fee waiver for veterans.

  • Save your G.I. Bill: Your G.I. Bill can be of more use at a four-year university or beyond.

  • Visit your Scholarship Office: See if there are any scholarships available, and sign up early for newsletters or updates.

  • Talk to a community college counselor ASAP: You want to know what classes are transferable, and what to take for your (potential) major. Also, see if you can find a counselor who specifically works with veterans.

  • Visit the Honors Department (if available): Your potential community colleges may or may not have an honors program. Utilizing an honors program can benefit you in three major ways: (1) it makes you a more competitive applicant during transfer admissions; (2) usually the best professors teach honors courses, making honors classes easier than regular ones; and (3) honors departments can connect you to some of the best resources because they not only want you to succeed, they want you to excel.

  • Locate a veteran’s club: If there isn’t one at your college, try creating one! You may also want to seek out any local veterans organizations, such as the Student Veterans Association, or establish contact with vet-friendly organizations like the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

Four-Year College Application Checklist

  • Complete the online portion of the application: Most schools use an online web service called the CommonApp (https://www.commonapp.org), which streamlines the application process. A benefit of the CommonApp is that there is less you have to do when applying to multiple colleges. Check your choice schools’ websites to see if they require the CommonApp or another form.

  • Start writing application essays: One essay will be sent to all your potential colleges via the CommonApp main application, but other colleges may require additional supplemental essays or short answer responses. Because many schools require supplemental essays that are unique to their own schools, treat each school as a separate application (and budget enough time for each one), even if logistically you’ll be using the CommonApp platform to submit them.

  • Request letters of recommendation: Make sure to request your letters of recommendation well in advance of the deadline. By giving your recommenders plenty of time to write you a positive letter, you are helping him or her help you. See Guidebook Section 5 for more details on the letter of recommendation.

  • Send in SAT or ACT scores: Go to CollegeBoard.com or ACT.org and send your scores to colleges that require them. Do this well in advance before fees increase. If you have not taken the SAT/ACT, try to take it at least three months in advance of the application date (the sooner the better), and budget another three months for test prep – that’s a total of six months. Most schools that require standardized tests will take either the ACT or the SAT, so take some practice diagnostic tests of each and then commit to the one that’s the better test for you.

  • Request and send official copies of transcripts from other colleges (if applicable): This is applicable to all potential transfers or freshmen with college experience. Many colleges now allow you to order transcripts online.

  • Request and send official high school transcript (if required): If you did poorly in high school but improved in college, sending your high school transcript may be advantageous to your application. Showing an upward trajectory in GPA is seen a significant positive in college admissions.

  • Fill out the FAFSA: Short for the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” (https://fafsa.ed.gov). You will need to fill out the FAFSA to see if you are eligible for university and federal financial aid.

  • Check for other financial aid forms: Some universities require additional financial aid forms. Check your choice schools’ websites to see if this is true. In some cases, you may have to send in W-2 or tax transcripts.

  • Apply for other financial aid: Some states, such as New York, offer veterans tuition assistance for 4-year undergraduate programs, as well as assistance for some graduate programs.

  • Ask for an application fee waiver: Call or email the school admissions office to see if they offer a fee waiver for veterans.

  • Save a copy of your final essays and applications: The CommonApp does a hard reset every year, and you won’t be able to access your old materials again. You can save your application materials as PDFs from the Preview menu in the CommonApp. Keep printed hard copies as well.

  • Make housing arrangements: If you are applying as a transfer, you may find that campus housing applications are due very soon after your admissions application. Once again, check your choice college’s website for more information.

  • Visit ebenefits.va.gov and apply for benefits if you intend to use them: You can do this before you know what schools you are applying to, but you must activate this.

  • Make a copy of your DD214 and MOS transcript/diploma: For financial aid purposes and to receive college credit.