29 Admissions criteria Colleges use some, if not all, of the information listed below when deter- mining whether or not to accept an applicant. Individual colleges, however, differ in how they evaluate this information. For example, one college may place a great deal of importance on test scores. Another college may focus more on other factors. Paying for college With college costs continuing to rise, most families are concerned about how they are going to pay for college. Although college can be expensive, financial aid often makes it possible for students to attend colleges they could not afford otherwise. There are four forms of financial aid: grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans. Grants and scholarships are considered “free money.” Loans and work-study are considered “self-help” programs. In order to obtain finan- cial aid, students and parents need to complete specific forms. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the most important of these forms. The FAFSA needs to be completed during a student’s senior year. There are also a number of ways to make college more affordable. Students can go to a public college in their home state, live at home and commute, start at a community college, or take advantage of military educational programs. Parents who are saving money for their child’s college education may want to consider investing in a 529 plan. While these plans vary from state to state, they all provide tax benefits. For information, go to www. savingforcollege.com. For information on how to pay for college, talk to your child’s counselor or visit the websites listed on the following page. u Grade point average (GPA) u Strength of subjects u ACT / SAT scores u Class rank u Recommendations u Special talents / awards u Activities u Essays u Interviews u Demonstrated interest