Why it’s not too late to apply to college (and get financial aid!)

It’s May and you’re panicked. Don't worry—recruitment manager Jeanette Chan-Rivera explains how to fast-track the college admissions process and be ready to start in the fall.

Students outside Frandsen Humanities on a sunny fall day

Why it’s not too late to apply to college (and get financial aid!)

It’s May and you’re panicked. Don't worry—recruitment manager Jeanette Chan-Rivera explains how to fast-track the college admissions process and be ready to start in the fall.

Students outside Frandsen Humanities on a sunny fall day

It’s May and you’re in a bit of a situation. While many of your friends have signed acceptance letters and even starting packing for college, you still haven’t even decided where you’re going to attend next year.

Maybe you didn’t get accepted (or you were waitlisted) at your first-choice school or maybe you found out your dream schools costs way too much. Or, you might have finally taken that campus tour and discovered the school looked nothing like the brochure or didn’t quite feel like the right fit. Whatever the reason, it’s May and you’re panicked.

Did you know that many colleges have rolling deadlines and accept new applicants into the summer? Plus, monies from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is still available. Here’s how to fast-track the college application process.

Know the important dates and deadlines

Applications received late in the summer are often up against tight deadlines. Your first step is to know when those deadlines are and map them out along with other important dates. Some dates and deadlines to keep in mind are:

  1. Last day to submit the admission application
  2. Final date to turn in application materials (transcripts, immunization records, letters of recommendations, etc)
  3. New student orientation dates
  4. When tuition and fees are due
  5. First day of classes

Start your application today and connect with an admission coordinator

Get your admissions application started right away. Even if you can't finish it right away, most applications will have a “save” option for you to return to and make updates.

It’s important for you to know what you need to submit with your admission application. Do you need letters of recommendations or a personal statement? Does the application include short essays? Sometimes the only way to find out if you’ll need these is by starting the application. You’ll also need to send an official high school transcript and possibly ACT, SAT and/or AP scores.

And, don’t forget to connect with a university admission coordinator. Rest assured, you aren’t the first student to start a late application. Admission coordinators work with students to ensure the application process goes as smoothly as possible and that your questions are answered. They’ll probably recommend checking the university student portal often for updates on your application.

Apply for housing as soon as possible

Housing is often assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis and availability can vary depending on the demand. If you’re late in the game, get your housing application completed as soon as you are able. At the University of Nevada, Reno, you can apply for housing a few days after you've submitted your admission application. You don't have to be admitted before completing a housing application.

Send your FAFSA information to the university

This is another step you can take before you are officially admitted. If you are eligible for grants and loans through FAFSA, now is the time to get your FAFSA to the university. You’ll do this by signing into your FAFSA account.

Some important things to know about FAFSA:

  1. Most students will not be evaluated for financial aid until they’ve been admitted to the university. So, while a university may have received your FAFSA information, your financial aid file will be on hold until you’ve been officially admitted.
  2. You may be required to submit additional information. A large number of students need to submit additional financial aid verification documents before they are awarded aid. Be sure to connect with the university’s financial aid office to confirm your file is complete.

Keep in mind that it may take weeks (or months) for you to receive a financial aid package. There are thousands of other students who also need a financial aid package and this process takes some time. Be sure your part of the process is complete and allow the financial aid office ample time to do their part.

Schedule an appointment and ask questions.

The best advice we can give you is to ask questions. Universities have staff that specifically work with incoming students—use them. The University of Nevada, Reno’s Office for Prospective Students has staff assigned to each state (and school) to partner with students going through the application process. Find your admissions coordinator.  

It’s time to make the most of the next few months and solidify your college plans. Then, enjoy the rest of your summer with friends and family before starting your next big adventure. Best of luck!


Jeanette Chan-RiveraJeanette Chan-Rivera, M.S. is the Manger of Recruitment and Marketing at the University of Nevada, Reno. Over the last 15years, Jeanette has worked with hundreds of families navigating the admissions, financial aid and college readiness process. Her work also includes marketing and communication on behalf of the University’s Office for Prospective Students.

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