Boonton HS School Counseling Department Directory

    Fax: (973) 402-5135  
    Phone: 973-335-9700  
    BHS CEEB code: 310130

    SCHOOL COUNSELORS:                      Grade             

    Ms. Lane Balaban  x4016                        9

    Mr. Jamie Nash x4019                            10

    Mrs. Samantah Soni x4018                    11

    Mrs. Diana Callahan  x4017                   12


    STUDENT ASSISTANCE COUNSELOR:                                      

    Ms. Leah Birchler  x4026


    Guidance-    For questions regarding transcripts:

    Mrs. Kim DiBenedetto x4003

    Main Office-For working papers and attendance:

    Ms. Karen Bonanni x4001


    At Boonton High School, we believe it is critically important for every student to have a solid post-secondary plan upon graduation.  Students have five options available to them after high school:  four-year college, community college, career/technical training school, military service, or employment.  All too often, students fail to plan for life beyond high school and they find themselves making a last minute decision about the future, instead of a well-informed choice.  The information contained in this guide will help students (and will help parents/ guardians support their students), as they begin to formulate their four-year and post-secondary plans.

    It is our belief that the student’s best interests are served through good communication among the four parties involved – the student, the school, the parents/guardians, and the colleges/universities. The following information is pertinent to the college admissions process. 

    Please read and familiarize yourself with this material.










    4 Years


    4 Years

    -English 9

    -American Lit

    -British Lit

    -World Lit




    3 Years


    4 Years

    -Algebra I


    -Algebra II




    3 Years



    3-4 Years

    -Biology w/Lab

    -Chem/Physics/Environmental Science w/Lab

    -Third Lab/inquiry-based class (Human Anatomy)


    History/Social Studies


    3 Years


    3-4 Years

    -Modern World History

    -US History I

    -US History II


    World Language


    1 Year


    3-4 Years

    -Spanish or French


    Visual &

    Performing Arts


    1 Year


    3+ Years if pursuing Art, Music, Theatre, Dance

    -Photography, Art, Concert Band, Choir, Concert Choir, Music Appreciation/Musical Theater, Yearbook, Music Theory


    21st Century


    1 Year


    3+ Years

    -Technology, Business, Consumer Science


    Personal Financial Literacy


    1/2 Year



    -Personal Finance

    -Business Administration


    -AP Macroeconomics




    Physical Education


    4 Years



    -PE/Health 9

    -PE/Health 10

    -PE/Health 11

    -PE/Health 12


    Total Credits &

    *PARCC Testing



    120 Credits & *Passing the PARCC

    Gen. Ed.- 130 cr.

    Gateway- 145 cr.

    *PARCC or an equivalent test

    -Additional Electives

    *Class of 2019: PSAT, SAT, ACT, ASVAB, ACCUPLACER, Portfolio Class


    An electronic resource that provides a unique set of tools to help students through the entire college application process including, but not limited to:

    • Researching college options
    • Choosing where to apply
    • Requesting recommendations
    • Delivering electronic transcripts
    • Tracking scholarship applications

    All BHS students have a Naviance log-in. Juniors will use Naviance primarily to research schools and build resumes, while Seniors will use it to assist with the college application process and seek out scholarship opportunities. Naviance provides one easy-to-use source to manage the college application process from beginning to end.

    Naviance website: https://connection.naviance.com/family-connection/auth/login/?hsid=boonton




    • Review your complete High School Transcript with your school counselor to check for accuracy of courses, grades, GPA, etc.
    • Meet with your School counselor to be sure that the colleges remaining on your Naviance “Colleges I’m applying to” list are appropriate given your academic and personal record
    • If you haven’t already, meet with the teachers of your choice to discuss letters of recommendation. Once you have verbally spoken with them, request their recommendation via Naviance (directions on Pg.41 of this guide)
    • Complete the Common Application if you are applying to schools that accept it
    • Start and/or complete school specific college applications (for those that do not accept Common App)
    • College Rep Visits: Check Naviance for when college/military representatives will be visiting BHS
    • Attend the Morris Regional College Fair at County College of Morris from 12pm - 3:00pm on Sunday, September 16
    • Plan visits to college campuses if you didn’t get to them during the summer or if you want to return for a second time.
    • If you still need to:
      • Register for the October 6th SAT (Registration Deadline-September 7th)
      • Register for the October 27th ACT (Registration Deadline- September 21st)
      • Student athletes aspiring to play Division I or Division II athletics in college must register with the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Eligibility Center (eligibilitycenter.org.).
      • Visit ncaa.org to review academic eligibility criteria.



    • If you are applying Early Decision or Early Action, be aware of your school’s deadlines
    • If you are applying to colleges that require the CSS Profile for financial aid, initiate the process now.
    • Attend the Parent/Guardian Financial Aid Night at BHS on October 11th at 6:30pm.
    • By the end of the month, complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS PROFILE online
    • College Rep Visits: Check Naviance for when college/military representatives will be visiting BHS
    • If you still need to:
      • Take the SAT on October 6th and/or the SAT Subject Tests.
      • Take the ACT on October 27th
      • Register for the November 3rd SAT (Deadline October 5th). 
    • Continue to attend College Fairs/Information sessions to investigate further the colleges you plan to apply to
    • Work hard, your fall semester grades of senior year are important and will be sent to your prospective colleges!



    • Continue to fill out your college applications. BE AWARE OF DEADLINE DATES.
    • *IDD Days: Go on Naviance to Sign Up for Instant Decision Days (IDD)
    • College Rep Visits: Check Naviance for when college/military representatives will be visiting BHS
    • Take the SAT on November 3rd and/or the SAT Subject Tests that are offered
    • FINAL TESTING DATES FOR SENIORS: Register for the 1st SAT (Register by Nov. 2nd ) or the Dec. 8th ACT (Registration Deadline Nov. 2)



    • Submit the last of your college applications
    • Take the Dec. 1st SAT (for the last time)
    • Take the Dec. 8th ACT  (for the last time)
    • Attend IDD Days and continue to sign up for them via Naviance!
    • Make sure your FAFSA and CSS PROFILE are filed by this time (or by your college’s stated deadline)
    • College Rep Visits: Check Naviance for when college/military representatives will be visiting BHS



    • Maintain strong Senior Year Grades
    • Research and apply to Scholarships via Naviance, local organizations, churches, etc.



    • Monitor your college applications to be sure that materials are sent and received on time, especially your first semester grades
    • Apply to Scholarships!



    • Continue to Monitor your college applications
    • Attend Open House Programs on college campuses.
    • Apply to Scholarships!
    • Evaluate and compare financial aid award letters from each school.



    • Decide on the college you will attend. Send in the required tuition deposit by May 1st
    • Record in Naviance where you will be attending College
    • Inform the colleges you have not selected that you plan to enroll elsewhere
    • Take AP Exams if appropriate
    • Continue to apply to Scholarships via Naviance



    • You must update Naviance with your final choice AND email Ms. Callahan and Mrs. DiBenedetto your school choice or your final transcript will not be sent to the college you are planning to attend
    • Graduate!



    • Read your email and mail from your college of choice for information regarding summer orientation, skills/placement testing, course registration, etc.



    2018-19 SAT Administration Dates and Deadlines


    *Deadlines expire at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, U.S.


    SAT Date

    Registration Deadline

    Late Registration Deadline

      *Late Fee Required

    Deadline for Changes


    August 25, 2018

    July 27, 2018

    August 15, 2018

    August 15, 2018


    October 6, 2018

    Sept. 7, 2018

    Sept. 26, 2018

    Sept. 26, 2018


    November 3, 2018

    Oct. 5, 2018

    Oct. 24, 2018

    Oct. 24, 2018


    December 1, 2018

    Nov. 2, 2018

    Nov. 20, 2018

    Nov. 20, 2018


    March 9, 2019

    Feb. 8, 2019

    Feb. 19, 2019

    Feb. 27, 2019


    Get more Information at: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/dates-deadlines


    2018-19 ACT Administration Dates and Deadlines:


    Test Date

    Registration Deadline

    Late Registration Deadline

     (Late Fee Required)

    September 8, 2018

    August 3, 2018

    Sept. 18; Oct 2, 2018

    October 27, 2018

    September 21, 2018

    Nov 6-Nov 2, 2018

    December 8, 2018

    November 2, 2018

    Dec 18, 2018-Jan 1, 2019

    February 9, 2019

    January 4, 2019

    Feb 19-Mar 5, 2019

     Get more Information at:





    PRIVATE VS. PUBLIC- all higher education institutions are either privately or publicly run.

    Private- Run by a board of trustee with no special affiliation or may be church-related: some church-related institutions with strong affiliations have religious curriculum and campus regulations. Private tends to be more expensive, but they also typically have larger endowments which means more financial aid from grants and scholarships which can help with the higher tuition costs.

    Public- Controlled by the state, county, or municipality. Often less expensive and tends to give preference for admittance to in-state applicants. Tuition is usually lower for in-state students than for out-of-state residents.



    College- Institution of higher learning offered beyond the 12th grade that offers a wide-range of degree programs at the associate and/or baccalaureate level. Some colleges also offer graduate programs.

    University- Institution of higher learning offered beyond the 12th grade that offers a wide-range of degree programs at the baccalaureate and/or graduate level. Universities are typically made up of several individual colleges and professional schools (i.e. College of Arts & Sciences, College of Business, School of Law, etc.).  Their Academic buildings often include hospitals and grant-supported facilities



    Two-Year Colleges- A junior college (usually private) or a community college (supported by the local county and the state- such as County College of Morris) usually accepts all high school graduates. Both types of colleges offer Associate degrees in the Arts, Sciences, and Applied Science. Two-Year Colleges aim to do the following: 1. Provide preparation for transfer to a 4-year college or university, 2. Provide general education to those not seeking a baccalaureate (bachelor) degree, 3. Provide specialized training for a career in specific fields.

    Nursing Schools- the following avenues can lead to preparation in nursing:

    • Junior and community colleges in conjunction with local hospitals offer 2-year nursing programs leading to an Associate of Science degree with Registered Nurse (RN) state certification
    • Some Hospitals offer 3 years of intensive training leading to state certification as a RN.
    • Colleges and Universities- offer a 4-year program of liberal arts and nursing training leading to a Bachelor of Sciences degree with RN state certification.

    Career Schools- generally private non-college professional schools that provide highly specialized training for specific careers such as: music, photography, dramatics, cosmetology, culinary arts, court reporting, etc. Career programs generally take 1-3 years and a certificate of completion is awarded at the end. Some career schools emphasize business with training in areas such as secretarial work, others offer technical programs such as air conditioning, heating and refrigeration, automotive repair, steam and diesel engine repair, electronics and computer technology.


    Four-Year Colleges and Universities (three categories):

    1. General Baccalaureate Institutions- offer bachelor’s degrees in a wide variety of majors along with providing students with a broad foundation in the liberal arts. Most offer study at the graduate level as well. Almost half of the 4-year institutions across the country fall into this category.


    1. Liberal Arts Colleges- Rather than emphasizing a specific course of study or professional training, these colleges aim to expose students to a wide breadth of courses in the humanities, physical, and social sciences. Tend to be small and graduates are successful in many careers due to their advanced ability to think and read critically, analyze, reason, and process complex ideas. These schools make up 15% of all 4-year institutions in the country.


    1. Specialized Schools- Specialized education includes technological institutions, which train students in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, agriculture, and other mechanical fields. Art, drama, and fashion institutes also fall into this category. Unlike the general baccalaureate and liberal arts categories, specialized schools emphasize a specific career path and are best suited for students who are positive about what they want to study.


    Service Academies- four years of tuition-free college leading to a baccalaureate degree. Primary purpose is to develop officers for the military. Curriculum is geared toward math and applied science. Admission is highly competitive- strong leadership capability is valued. To secure an acceptance at a service academy (except the Coast Guard) you must also secure a nomination from your state senator or congressman. The application is very complex- the process should begin in the spring of your junior year. Graduates receive a Bachelor of Science degree and are required to fulfill a military service obligation after graduating depending on the academy.

    The Service Academies are as follows:

    • United States Air Force Academy (Colorado)
    • United States Coast Guard Academy (Connecticut)
    • United States Merchant Marine Academy (Long Island)
    • United States Military Academy (New York)
    • United States Naval Academy (Maryland)


    Communication between you and your parent(s) is essential in this potentially sensitive area of college planning. To avoid any problems discussions about college financing should begin at the same time as the application process. Students should be clear about what they hope for and can expect from their parents, while parents should be clear about what they realistically can provide. It is quite damaging to parent-student relationship when a student learns after a decision letter has been received that his or her college options are limited due to financial restraints. Cost of institution should not be the sole factor in deciding where to apply, but it is important to know what your parents/guardians can provide in conjunction with any financial aid you may receive.


    The actual cost of attending college is the tuition and fees charged by the college/university minus the amount of financial aid awarded to the students. DO NOT assume you are ineligible for financial aid!

    HOW FINANCIAL AID IS AWARDED- FAFSA (no-fee) is a must, CSS Profile (fee-based) is a plus!

    • College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile- an institutional (private/internal) application that may be required by some schools (about 400 Colleges/Universities/Scholarship programs require it- NOT FREE) for non-federal financial aid. CSS Profile begins October 1st ($25 for first school, $16 additional for each school- Fee Waivers can be applied). It can be completed at org. You should only submit a CSS PROFILE if your college or scholarship program instructs you to do so- contact your college’s financial aid office if you have any questions.
    • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed before any need-based aid can be awarded. The FAFSA should be completed online at fafsa.gov. A username and password (FSA ID) MUST be used to log into certain U.S. Department of Education Websites.
    • Your FSA ID confirms your identity when you access your financial aid information and when you electronically sign federal student aid documents. If you do not already have a FSA ID, you can create one when logging into fafsa.gov. You can use your FSA ID to sign a FAFSA right away- NEVER SHARE your FSA ID.
    • The FAFSA should be submitted to the Federal Processor after October 1 and no later than June 30th of Senior year (BUT APPLY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE). The prior year’s tax return will be used when filing the FAFSA (2016). However, if personal financial information has changed since that prior year, students/parents can fill out a change of life circumstances claim to get a more accurate calculation for their financial aid
    • The Federal Processor uses information from the FAFSA to compute the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the basis of the financial aid package and is determined by a federal formula that calculates need using information supplied by you on the FAFSA- savings, assets and income of the family. The EFC is a measurement of a family’s financial strength.
    • The Federal Processor sends this information to the federal and state government and to institutions to which the student applies. The student is informed of the Federal Needs Analysis through the Student Aid Report (SAR). Please note the Federal Processor does not award funds- it just provides the calculation.
    • The federal government uses the Federal Needs Analysis to determine eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Teach Grant, the Federal Perkins Loan, the William D. Ford Loans, Direct Parent Loans, and Federal Work-Study Funds
    • The State of New Jersey uses the modified version of the Federal Needs Analysis to determine eligibility for Tuition Aid Grants, Part-Time Tuition Aid Grants for community college students, and Educational Opportunity Fund Grants (see HESAA.org). It is important to remember however, that most grants provided by the State of New Jersey are only awarded to students who attend college in New Jersey. Therefore, students should list New Jersey colleges first on the FAFSA College List- which indicates where the Needs Analysis should be sent.


    Some colleges may ask you to verify information on the FAFSA by providing them with a copy of your income tax forms. In cases of divorce or separation, a college may also ask for financial information from the noncustodial parent. Individual colleges may take into consideration the income or assets of the noncustodial parent when awarding their own institutional funds.

    Shortly after you receive your acceptance letter from a particular college, a Financial Aid Package will be mailed to you. This package will list the initial cost of tuition, fees, and on-campus room and board at the institution and how they will be reduced by any grants, loans, scholarships and campus jobs you are receiving. The final cost of attendance should be clearly marked. In comparing financial aid packages from different colleges, it is important to note not only how financial costs compare, but also how much the student and parent will have to borrow in the form of loans. It is also important to know whether the financial aid awarded by the college is renewable for subsequent years and whether a certain level of satisfactory progress is necessary to renew the award (i.e. maintaining a certain GPA).

    If the financial aid award at the college you most want to attend is insufficient to meet your needs, it may be useful to contact the Financial Aid Office at that specific institution to see if personal circumstances warrant reconsideration. Parents may also apply through the college for a Parents Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) or NJ CLASS Loans to help meet college costs. Attend the Financial Aid Night offered by BHS on October 11th to receive help filling out the FAFSA and to get any financial aid questions answered! For additional help, visit: www.NJFAFSADAYS.org

    FAFSA Basics- Free Application for Federal Student Aid

    • Applicants submit information about their income, assets, and household makeup, which is used to calculate federal financial aid eligibility.
    • Students will be able to file FAFSA beginning Oct. 1 – a full three months earlier than previously allowed.
    • Applicants will use prior-prior year tax information when reporting personal and family income (from 2016)
      • Information needed to complete the FAFSA- 2016 Federal Tax Return, 2016 W-2 Forms, FSA ID, Student Driver’s License (for State Aid purposes only), and Social Security Benefit Statement (for State Aid-not federal)
    • Get FREE help at any point during the process from the financial aid office at the college or career school you plan to attend, HESAA at hesaa.org or 609-584-4480, or the U.S. Department of Education at: www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov or 1-800-433-3243. You should NEVER have to pay for help!


    Why File FAFSA?

    • All schools require the FAFSA for financial aid.
    • The FAFSA is required for accessing all types of federal financial aid:
      • Pell Grants and other grants, which do not need to be repaid
      • Federal Loans, which do need to be repaid
      • Work-study, which must be earned
    • It is also used by many colleges, states, and scholarship programs to assess eligibility for their financial aid programs. Deadlines Matter- check with each college/university for their financial aid deadline!
      • New Jersey State Deadline for new students- September 15th 2019 - BUT apply as soon as possible- just because State Aid is open until Sept. 15th doesn’t mean school deadlines are - they will be earlier!!
      • Federal Deadlines- Complete the FAFSA between Oct. 1 and June 30th of the following year- no exceptions, BUT apply as soon as possible to get as much aid as possible at fafsa.gov --Just because the FAFSA is open until June 30th doesn’t mean school deadlines are - they will be earlier!!


    For Class of 2018

    To make sure you are considered for federal student aid:

    • Complete the 2019-2020 FAFSA using 2017 tax information.
    • Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If you can’t, then you will need to collect your 2016 tax returns and others records of income. A full list of what you need is available at www.fafsa.gov
    • During the 2018-2019 school year, file your 2019-2020 FAFSA as soon as possible. The form will be available October 1, 2018. Some financial aid funds (such as work-study) are limited and awarded on a first-come basis.

    Fall 2018 To Do List for Parents & Students:

    •  Create your own FSA ID if you don’t have one yet. (The FSA ID is a username and password that you’ll use for such purposes as signing your child’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid.) Note: You must create your own FSA ID. If your child creates it for you, or if you create your child’s, that’ll cause confusion later and will slow down the financial aid application process. (Need help? You and your child should watch the “How to Create an FSA ID” video)
    • Take a look at your financial situation, and be sure you’re on the right track to pay for college.
    • Talk to your child about the schools he or she is considering. Ask why those schools appeal to your child, and help him or her clarify goals and priorities. Note those school’s financial aid priority deadlines which can be found on the school websites under the financial aid office tab (if you do not apply by the priority deadline the school could run out of aid by the time you apply).
    • Make sure your child is looking into or already has applied for scholarships.
    • Ask your employer whether scholarships are available for employees’ children.


    The FSA ID- a username and password- must be used to log in to certain U.S. department of Education websites. Your FSA ID confirms your identity when you access your financial aid information and electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents.

    If you do not already have an FSA ID, you can create one here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/fsaid?utm_content=sf60809600&utm_medium=spredfast&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=Federal&sf60809600=1

    A student needs their own FSA ID and a parent needs their own respective FSA ID for online signature of the 2019-2020 FAFSA. If you have twins or triplets- each kid needs an FSA ID but the parent can just have the one to use for each of them.




    STEP 1: When logging in to www.fafsa.gov, click the link to create an FSA ID


    STEP 2: Create a username and password, and enter your e-mail address


    STEP 3: Enter your name, date of birth, Social Security number, contact information, and challenge questions and answers


    STEP 4: if you have a Federal Student Aid PIN, you will be able to enter it and link it to your FSA ID. You can still create an FSA ID if you have forgotten or do not have a PIN


    STEP 5: Review your information and read and accept the terms and conditions


    STEP 6: Confirm your e-mail address using the secure code which will be sent to the e-mail address you entered when you created your FSA ID. Once your verify your e-mail address, you can use it instead of your username to log in to the websites


    Once the Social Security Administration verifies your information in 1-3 days, You can use your FSA ID to sign a FAFSA right away. For help visit StudentAid.gov/fsaid



    MYTH #1: My parents make too much money, so I will not qualify for aid:

    • The only way to determine if you can qualify for aid is by completing the FAFSA. Completing the FAFSA will determine what you are eligible to receive in grants, scholarships, and loans. The FAFSA is completed annually. Loans are considered a source of financial aid. In financial aid, there is no income cut-off.


    MYTH #2: The form is too hard to fill out:


    • Completing the FAFSA is simple and FREE. Detailed instructions appear for every question (go to Fafsa.gov). Use the Data Retrieval Tool. If a student needs help, you can access real-time private online chat with a customer service representative. The application is mostly available 24/7 and is available in English and Spanish. Check with your local college and NJFAFSADAYS.org for FAFSA help. Be sure to attend the Financial Aid Night on October 11th at Boonton High School !
    • BE SURE TO: Create the FSA ID before starting the FAFSA
    • Key components of the FAFSA:
      • Student Demographics (First and Last Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, etc.). STUDENTS must fill this out on their own. Parents cannot complete this for the student. It is the student’s information and the student’s application.
      • Student income/assets –in 2016 (even if you didn’t have to file a tax return for it)
      • Student status (dependent/independent)
      • Parent Demographics (PARENT can now complete this section, STUDENTS CAN NOT)
      • Family Size (twins or triplets= each child becomes more eligible for student aid)
      • Number in college
      • Parent(s) Income and Assets
      • Federal Means Tested Benefits (free or reduced lunch)
      • College Choice (Student fills this out- list all colleges of interest up to 10, list an NJ school first to meet state deadline for grant eligibility, can change schools on the list after FAFSA is processed by going back in and resubmitting with new list. Schools can be in any order and any schools).
      • Signature- FSA ID (student AND parent)
      • Once the FAFSA is submitted, use the link on the FAFSA confirmation page to go to HESAA’s website to respond to the additional questions required to determine NJ State aid eligibility


    MYTH #3: If I pay someone to complete the FAFSA, I am more likely to receive more money

    • NO! A simple mistake can be costly and cause delays. Avoid being charged a fee to file the FAFSA by going to fafsa.gov- it is FREE. For Free help on the FAFSA, contact 609-588-4618 or HESAA at 1-609-584-4480


    MYTH #4: The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is how much money my family will need to pay

    • No! It is an indicator of your family’s financial strength. EFC is a comparative index determined by: family income & assets (taxed & untaxed), household size, number in college (excluding parents) and age of oldest parent/stepparent. You want the EFC to be a low number, but the number provided is not what you will pay- it is a tool for colleges to determine your aid. The higher the EFC, the lower the amount of aid.


    MYTH #5: Once I file the FAFSA, I am done!

    • Sometimes students make errors on their application. There is a process for verifying applications and making corrections. The Central Processing System (CPS) selects which application is to be verified federally. HESAA (state) verifies financial data provided on the FAFSA in partnership with campus financial aid staff. Most students selected for state verification are not selected for federal verification. Discrepant information must be resolved regardless of selection for verification.


    MYTH #6: Tuition is my only expense


    • Cost of attendance (COA)= Tuition (direct expense), Fees (direct expense), Room and Board (may be direct expense), Books and Supplies (direct but not billed), Personal Expenses (indirect expense), Transportation (indirect expense). Please note special circumstances can affect the cost of attendance (i.e. child care, study abroad, costs related to disabilities, computer requirements, etc.).
    • Unexpected costs: remediation classes, changes in major, transferring, unpaid internships, Study Abroad, Spring Break, trips home, student clubs/organization fees, moving expenses, and summer storage


    MYTH #7: I will always be eligible for financial aid


    • All types of aid have limitations. Merit and need-based institutional aid eligibility may vary from college to college. While enrolled, student must meet the Institution’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirement (i.e. maintain a certain GPA). Pell grants and Direct Loans have lifetime limits (which means you can use up the money allotted). NJ State aid has lifetime limits as well. You also need to remember to file your FAFSA and/or state aid at the beginning of every school year (you have to reapply each year).



    MYTH #8: I’m 18 and I support myself, so I am independent


    • There are many Dependency Status Questions on the FAFSA that will help clarify if you are independent. Some examples: Were you born before January 1, 1994? As of today are you married?, At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (Graduate school)? Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training? As determined by a court in your state of legal residence are you, or were you, an emancipated minor? Were you determined by a court to be in legal guardianship? Were you determined to be homeless? Etc.



    MYTH #9: If my financial circumstance changes after I submit the FAFSA there is no way for colleges to take that into consideration


    • Financial aid administrators at colleges and universities can exercise professional judgment in cases of special circumstances. They will require additional documentation to explain the circumstances; Information requested may vary by each institution. Decisions are final and cannot be appealed.
    • Examples: Change in financial circumstances due to unemployment, death, or disability, change in marital status, unreimbursed paid medical expenses or other unusual non-discretionary expenses, dependency status overrides, loss of benefits, etc.



    MYTH #10: If my parents or I make a mistake on the forms it’s no big deal


    • While there will be opportunities to fix/correct discrepancies in the FAFSA, financial aid officers and HESAA are required to stop processing aid until the parent and/or student files or re-files the correct tax forms. Tax returns must be filed in accordance with IRS regulations (ex: student cannot be claimed by more than one taxpayer).




    As previously mentioned, students apply for all the federal, state, and institutional aid programs by completing the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov. Some colleges may require additional information and applications for their institutional aid (i.e. CSS Profile) Students must apply annually each “award year” they are requesting financial aid.


    The FAFSA has detailed help screens to assist students and parents while filling it out, there is real-time communication with a customer service representative that will provide immediate answers, there are built-in edits to detect errors and reduce the number of rejected applications, and you will have access to an estimated Expected Family Contribution

    1. After October 1st, students may begin to file the FAFSA- online at fafsa.gov. Make sure you have certain records on hand- you will need to refer to:
      1. Your Federal tax return
      2. Your parents’ federal tax return (if you apply as a dependent student)
      3. Current bank statements, investments and asset information


    1. Be as accurate, complete, and truthful as possible because it may be checked for accuracy


    1. Keep a copy of the completed forms just in case you are asked to provide records to prove the information you have given is correct


    1. Fill out the correct section of the form- some forms will be designated for students to complete only, while other areas are for the parents to complete.


    1. If an exact figure is not known, give the best estimate- don’t enter a range of figures on the FAFSA


    1. Complete only the response areas on the form- if you need to make comments or have unusual/special circumstances (death, loss of job) write a letter to the Financial Aid Office at the college/university. They can use professional judgment (based on documents provided) to re-evaluate the EFC


    1. Make only one entry for each space- don’t put multiple amounts in one answer area


    1. List at least one college on the FAFSA- if you are applying to New Jersey schools make sure you list them first!


    1. Print and Save the confirmation page once you have submitted it electronically. BEFORE YOUR CLICK OUT, select the NJ State Application link to complete the questions for New Jersey State Aid!


    • To submit additional information required to be considered for New Jersey State grants and scholarships, NJ residents should click the link at the end of the FAFSA at the Web Confirmation page (after your submit the FAFSA). The link is called: “Optional Feature start you State Application…” Make sure you do not exit the page before completing the HESAA portion for NJ State Aid!
    • Once completed you will be notified to log in to njgrants.org, also now New Jersey Financial Aid Management System (NJFAMS) at hesaa.org, to view the status of your State grant application by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA)
    • HESAA will collect up to 6 additional data elements (than the FAFSA) to determine NJ grant eligibility (which is why you need to complete a separate form).
    • Make sure if you are applying to New Jersey schools that you list at least one NJ College/University as your first college on the list for the FAFSA- it is necessary for the process for HESAA! You can always go back in to change or add schools on your list.


    • You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the U.S. Department of Education within 1-3 days which will contain the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and determines your federal student aid eligibility for Pell Grant, and Campus-Based and Direct Loan Programs.
      • Review your SAR, if necessary, make changes or correction and submit your SAR for reprocessing. You can submit corrections online at fafsa.gov.
    • After April 1st, you will receive a Student Eligibility Notice (SEN) from the State of New Jersey. This form will provide information regarding your eligibility for all state based aid, including the Tuition Aid Grant (TAG).
    • The deadlines for state student aid programs vary from state to state- please be sure to look up NJ Deadlines.
    • If you are selected for federal verification, your college’s financial aid office will ask you to submit tax return transcripts and other documents as needed- Be sure to meet the school’s deadlines. To request an IRS tax return go to irs.gov (it is FREE). Note: The state of NJ may also request documents to verify information reported on the FAFSA
    • Be wary of organizations that charge a fee for submitting your FAFSA- it should be entirely FREE. If you need assistance in completing the form contact a college financial aid office or:
      • NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA): hesaa.org
      • 1-800-433-3243 for general information about Federal Student Financial Assistance Programs, for help in completing the FAFSA, and other information
      • 1-800-793-8670 (State of NJ toll-free hotline) for general information about the State of NJ Student Aid Programs and assistance in completing the FAFSA.




    5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Financial Aid Award

    The first step in applying for financial aid is completing the FAFSA.  The schools you listed on the FAFSA will take that information and use it to calculate the financial aid you’re eligible for.  Your financial aid awards may vary from school to school based on a number of factors including: your EFC, the number of credits you will take each term, your COA at each school, your eligibility for state and institutional aid at each school, and your year in school. Keep in mind that many schools have a priority deadline, so the sooner you apply each year, the better.

    Here are 5 things that will help you better understand how financial aid is awarded:

    1. States, colleges, and outside agencies may require additional applications.

    Beyond federal financial aid, which is determined by completing the FAFSA, some states and colleges may require additional applications to determine your eligibility for state or institutional (college) financial aid (CSS Profile). Check with the financial aid office at each college you are applying to and ask whether they require additional applications. (Also ask about deadlines!) These applications may include consideration for state or institutional grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans.

    TIP: Don’t forget about outside scholarships which may require separate applications as well. 

    1. The FAFSA confirmation page is not your financial aid award. After you complete the FAFSA online, you’ll receive a confirmation page.

    This page includes a lot of helpful information, so you should read it carefully.

    Not pictured on this example confirmation page is the link to complete the HESAA NJ State Aid Form.






    There is often confusion surrounding two sections on this page:

    • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) (bottom left): The information you report on your FAFSA is used to calculate your EFC. It is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college.  Therefore, if your EFC is zero, that does not mean you will have zero out of pocket expenses.  Instead, the EFC is an index number used by financial aid offices to calculate how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school.

    Contrary to popular belief, the EFC formula considers more than just income. Factors such as dependency status, family size, and the number of children in your family who are attending college are just a few of the additional factors considered.

    • Federal Aid Estimates (bottom right): The FAFSA confirmation page provides federal aid estimates based on the information you provided on your FAFSA. It’s important to know that these figures are truly estimates and assume the information you provided on the FAFSA is correct. To calculate the actual amount of aid you’re eligible for, your school will take into account other factors, such as the cost to attend the school. Additionally, these estimates only take into account federal aid and not outside scholarships or state and institutional financial assistance you may also be eligible for.

    Tip: Each school you are accepted to and include on your FAFSA will send you a financial aid award. Until you receive this award letter/notification from a school, it may be difficult to know exactly how much aid you might be eligible to receive from that specific school.  In the interim, you can use the Net Price Calculator to help get a general idea of what aid you are likely to receive from a specific school. 

    1. How financial aid is calculated: COA – EFC = Financial Need.

    Cost of attendance (COA) minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC) equals financial need. This formula is the starting point to calculating your financial aid package. COA is an estimate of what it will cost you to go to school, in most cases for two semesters or three quarters.  COA is more than just tuition & fees, it includes room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses.

    The financial aid office at your school will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. Schools will first award need-based aid such as grants and subsidized loans, before awarding non-need based aid such as unsubsidized loans. The total amount of aid you will be awarded, in almost all cases, cannot exceed your COA.

    Tip: Often times a student’s financial need is higher than the need-based awards a student is eligible to receive.  Therefore, just because a student has high need, does not mean they will only be awarded need-based aid. Other factors must be taken into account, such as cost of attendance which could result in loans being awarded instead.

    1. Financial aid award letters are school specific.

    There is no standard award letter, so while some letters you receive may look similar, others may look completely different.  Certain schools may send you a paper letter or award packet, while others may provide the information electronically.  Many schools may also send you a standardized format letter that provides personalized information on financial aid and net costs, as well as general information on institutional outcomes, such as graduation rates and loan default rates.

    Because these letters/notifications may look different, you should be careful when comparing them. You may be awarded the same amount of federal aid from school to school, but it would not be uncommon to see varying award packages depending on the schools you are applying to.

    Tip: Keywords to look for are: grant or scholarship (both are financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid), work-study (earned through working), and loan (needs to be repaid).   

    1. FAFSA information doesn’t always accurately reflect a family’s financial situation. While schools are not required to consider special circumstances, many schools do (i.e. loss of a job or a reduction in income as compared to what was reported on the FAFSA). Tip: Check with the financial aid office to find out if they consider special circumstances and if so, how you go about submitting a petition for reconsideration of your financial aid eligibility.


    First and foremost- if you have any questions contact your college’s Financial Aid Office. Review award letters from schools to compare amounts and types of aid being offered. Decide which school to attend based on a combination of:  1. How well the school fits your needs and 2. Its affordability after all aid is taken into account.

    Cost of Attendance (COA): the total direct cost (tuition, room, and board, etc.) of one year’s education. Your school may also include indirect costs (books, fees, transportation, personal expenses, etc.)                                              The following example includes both direct and indirect:




    Health/Computer Fees










    Cost of Attendance


    Family Contribution: Amount per year parents and students are expected to give, determined by FAFSA results


    Total Cost of Attendance


    Estimated Family Contribution


    Financial Need*


    *Financial Need= COA-EFC

    Financial Aid Award: The award is broken out into grants and loans. This student’s award consists of: Federal Pell Grant (free money), Tuition Aid Grant (Free money), Federal Direct Student Loan (student repays), Federal Direct PLUS loan (Parent repays).


    GRANTS (Free $)




    Federal Pell Grant




    Tuition Aid Grant




    Total Grants= $5,525

    LOANS (Not Free $)




    Federal Direct Student Loan




    Deseral Direct PLUS (Parent) Loan or NJ Class Loan




    Total Parent and Student Loans= $25,850

    Total Financial Aid Package Offered (grants + loans) = $31,375








    Unmet Need: unmet need is: COA minus the total of EFC and total aid amount.


    The example indicates that the financial aid matches the student’s need, so the unmet need is $0.


    Total Cost of Attendance




    Total Awarded Financial Aid Amount






    Look carefully at your award letters: Letters from different schools will probably have their figures and costs in different formats. Compare award letters to see how their offers measure up. Ask if outside scholarships will affect your aid.  


    Look beyond the “sticker price”: The school with the lowest cost of attendance may not be the most affordable. The amount and type of aid offered will influence affordability


    Don’t accept an offer just because it has the lowest Unmet Need: You may save more by accepting an offer with a higher unmet need, if the aid package offers more scholarships and grants instead of loans.


    Compare like terms: How do the schools determine cost of attendance? Do all they include direct costs as well as indirect costs? How do they handle outside scholarships? What work study options are available? What are the salaries like? Can you substitute work for a loan?


    Compare loan officers: Interest rates, how interest compounds, repayment terms and cancellation provisions can vary widely from loan to loan.



    • Sources of Aid: Federal, State of NJ, The College/University, Outside Organizations (Civic organizations such as the local rotary club), Parent’s employer, high school awards/scholarships)
    • Types of Financial Aid: Grants, Scholarships, Loans, Employment opportunities (work-study).
    • Types of Aid Available- Federal:
      • Federal Grants-Award Type: Pell, FSEOG, TEACH
    • Types of Aid Available- NJ State:
      • NJ State Grants- Award Type: Full-Time TAG, Part-Time, EOF, NJ STARS, NJ STARS II, Governor’s Urban Scholarship, NJ-GIVS
    • Self-Help Loans & Gap Shortfall Solutions (borrow up to the cost of attendance)
      • Monthly Payment Plans- offered by the college
      • Federal Direct Student Loan Program (subsidized Stafford loan, Unsubsidized Stafford Loan), PLUS Loan Subsided= Need-based, interest free until after the student leaves school.
      • After Student Loans-unmet Need
        • NJCLASS Family Supplemental Loan Program- student or Parent can be borrower
        • Federal PLUS Program- Parent is only borrower
        • Private Educational Bank Loans
      • HESAA SERVICES- njgrants.org, www.njclass.org, Customer Care Line: 609-584-4480, Mappingyourfuture.org


    Another primary source of money for college is merit scholarships. These are generally awarded by colleges and universities based strictly on an applicant’s academic achievement. Typically the college considers the student for a merit award at the time of application and financial need is not a factor.


    It is important to research the colleges you are interested in to determine their merit scholarship criteria. In addition to merit scholarships, private scholarships are won by 1.2 million students each year. Many foundations, corporations, unions and religious organizations sponsor scholarships. The local Chamber of Commerce may have a list of businesses, civic and professional groups such as Elks and Rotary Clubs, which offer substantial awards for students in their community.


    Institutional and private scholarships- facts that may influence eligibility: Academics, Academic Track, Activities, AP Courses, Athletic ability, Class Rank, Gender/Ethnicity, Geographic Diversity, High School attended, Legacy (child of alumni), SAT’s/ACT’s. Talent


    Specific details on National, State, and Local scholarships are sent to the BHS Counseling Office which is then posted onto Naviance- so be sure to check the Naviance Scholarships daily!


    Located on Naviance: Under on the “Colleges” home, at the bottom of the page



    Also- use the internet! Scholarship sites with searchable databases are most useful- you enter your personal information such as age, gender, grade point average, field of study and end up with a list of potential awards that fit your profiles. A list of useful scholarships websites can be found below. Students are also encouraged to research scholarships using the websites listed on the last page of this guide.

    Check out www.fastweb.com, www.scholarships.com, and bigfuture.collegeboard.org/scholarship-search  


    View the following guide link: Everything You Need To Know About Winning Scholarships: (https://studentloans.net/scholarships)

    - What is a scholarship?
    - Types of scholarships available
    - How to search for scholarships
    - How to write effective essays
    - How to get a letter of recommendation
    - Avoiding scholarship scams!


    BE AWARE OF SCHOLARSHIP SCAMS- these usually come in the form of letters inviting you to pay a fee for scholarship courses. The same information is available to you for free via your own computer/phone! If you suspect a scholarship scam, you can report it to the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 647-8733.

    The scholarship process is free: it requires your time, but NOT your money.


    Senior year can be a difficult time for parents/guardians- here are some suggestions:


    • Your student’s counselor is your partner in this process. Work cooperatively with him/her and attend ALL college-related information programs including Financial Aid night on October 11th!


    • Remember that career exploration needs to be an on-going activity throughout high school. Help your student define possible career options by continually reflecting on favorite high school subjects and extracurricular activities. Encourage him/her to gather career information from books or the interest and speak to individuals who are currently employed in fields of interest. Establishing career goals is necessary to college planning.


    • Help your student realistically access his or her academic abilities and limitations. Have frequent discussions about unique talents and gifts and explore colleges that will nurture these skills. The appropriate college environment is not necessarily the most prestigious school but one where your child will definitely experience success


    • Approach the college process by following the steps in this guide. However, let your student take the lead in this process, but reassure them you are there for help and advice. This process will provide your student with opportunities for leadership and independence. It will provide them with problem-solving strategies that will empower them to make decisions and resolve issues on their own.


    • Help your student define the most important qualities he or she wants from a college environment. Come to a family consensus on criteria for size, distance from home, and cost


    • Make sure your student, not you, is responsible for requesting college information, making campus tour arrangements, completing applications and essays, requesting letters of recommendation. You can work together to make timelines for these tasks


    • Encourage your child to keep all options open early in the process. Explore colleges other than name brand schools which may be a better fit. Make a target list which covers realistic choices, reach choices, and safety schools.


    • Communicate your dreams, goals and expectation for your child but be sure to distinguish them from your own aspirations


    • Be aware that senior year is very emotional for students and parents- openly discuss any fears or concerns either of you are feeling in a non-judgmental way


    • Be reminded that college admission is a complex process that is often unpredictable. Although 75% of the process is in your control, the other 25% is dictated by internal institutional factors. Therefore, some disappointments are natural and should be taken in stride.






    Permits you to use the college search software online (bigfuture), search for scholarships, and register for SAT testing/send scores and complete the CSS Profile.




    Register for ACT testing/send scores.




    The Common Admission Application for more than 650 colleges.




    Provides the ability to file the FAFSA form electronically.




    Information on funding/financial aid, New Jersey state Aid, and links to other informative websites. 




    Searchable database of scholarships.




    Scholarship and financial aid information


    College Scorecard


    Website offered by the White House to estimate real college costs




    Articles and information related to the college application process, standardized tests, and financial aid




    College searches, scholarships, database and multimedia tours. 




    Searchable college database




    A College Admissions and Financial Aid Guide for All Students