Steps to Apply to College, Financial Aid & Scholarships

Before you start, review the following documents to help determine which college(s) and career(s) might be a good fit for you:


Step One:  Fill out the college application online.

2020 Michigan College Application Details

  • Click the above link for a list of every Michigan college, application links, application cost, average SAT, average GPA, whether or not they accept the common app, etc.
  • If you plan to use the Common App for any college, please contact your counselor to make sure this is the correct application to use and for help with Steps 2-4.
  • If the college/university is not listed, search for the online application on the internet. 
    • To make sure you complete the correct application, look for the words "first-year", "freshman", or "undergraduate" application.

Step Two:  Did you apply using the Common App?  If yes, Match your Common App to Naviance.  If no, skip this step.

You MUST match your Common App to your Naviance account using the following steps:

  1. Create a Common App account at Common App Online.
  2. Add one or more colleges to your application.
  3. Click on one of the colleges and sign the Common App (CA) FERPA Waiver.
  4. Log into your Naviance account.  You can log in with your school account by clicking on the green "Continue with Single Sign On" button.
  5. Click on "Colleges", then "Colleges I'm Applying To".
  6. Click on "MATCH ACCOUNTS" at the top of the page. 
  7. Enter in your Common App email address.
  8. Verify your date of birth.
  9. Click on "Match Accounts" 
  10. It should automatically add the colleges from Common App to your Naviance account.
  11. Click on the white box next to each college and click +Request Transcripts at the top.


Step Three:  Request letters of recommendation, if required.

Click here for directions on how to request letters of recommendation or read below.

To request a letter of recommendation from a school employee, you must do the following:

  1. Log into your Naviance account.  You can log in with your school account by clicking on the green "Continue with Single Sign On" button.
  2. Click on "Colleges", then "Colleges I'm Applying To".
  3. Scroll down and click on the "letters of recommendation section" link.
  4. Click on "Add Request" and add teachers who you think will best represent your ability level and character to the colleges you are applying to.  Think about what you plan to study in college and who might speak to those abilities.  Ask your counselor if you need help.
  5. Talk to those teachers in person or email them to make sure they know your deadline.
  6. Submit a resume or brag sheet to those teachers.


Step Four:  Request your transcript.

Click here for directions on how to request transcripts or read below.

All colleges require a transcript for the college application to be complete.  To request your transcript, you must do the following:

  1. Log into your Naviance account.  You can log in with your school account by clicking on the green "Continue with Single Sign On" button.
  2. Click on "Colleges", then "Colleges I'm Applying To"
  3. Click on the red plus sign at the top of the page.
  4. Make your selections from all 3 drop-down boxes:  Which college are you applying to?, App type, and I'll submit my application--be sure to choose from Via Common App or Direct to the Institution.  Do NOT leave "I'm not sure yet" as your selection.
  5. Click on "Add and Request Transcript"
  6. Click on "Initial", "Unofficial SAT scores", then "Request and Finish".
  7. Make sure that if you applied using the Common App, the "CA" symbol is listed next to those colleges in your list.


Step Five:  Send your "Official SAT Scores"

If a college requires "official" SAT scores, you must send them through your college board account.  Visit to send those.  You may sign up to retake the SAT through this website, as well.  If you qualify for free/reduced lunch, you may request an SAT fee waiver from your LHS counselor.


Step Six:  Paying the Application Fee

Your application fee must be paid for your application to be considered complete.

Free/Reduced Lunch?

If you receive free/reduced lunch, you can request up to 4 fee waivers from your school counselor.  Visit the LHS counseling office to request those from your school counselor.

Many colleges offer fee waivers or free applications to all students during College Month in October.  Check with your LHS counselor for more information.

Click here for a list of all Michigan College Application Fees.


Step Seven:  NCAA and NAIA Eligibility for Student Athletes

Division I

Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at

Division II

Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at

Division III

You do NOT need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.


Register with the NAIA Eligibility Center at  

NAIA students MUST request that a transcript be sent through their NAIA Eligibility Center account at the end of the year.


Step Eight:  Complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

You can start completing the FAFSA on October 1.

The priority deadline for Michigan students is March 1.

Steps to Complete FAFSA

  1. Collect the information and documents you need to complete the FAFSA.
  2. Set up an FSA ID for yourself.  Have one parent set up an FSA ID for themselves.
  3. Complete the FAFSA with a parent.
  4. The FAFSA needs to be completed every year.

Types of Financial Aid

  • Grants and Scholarships—financial aid that doesn't have to be repaid.  Grants are usually based on income and scholarships are usually based on achievement.
  • Work-study—a work program through which you earn money to help you pay for school
  • Loans—borrowed money for college or career school; you must repay your loans, with interest.  Federal loans and Parent loans are available with the FAFSA and are usually lower interest than other private loans.

Reasons to Fill Out the FAFSA

  •   This is how you figure out if you qualify for free money for college--federal and state grants and scholarships and work study.
  • This is how you qualify for low interest federal student and parent loans.
  • Every family who has an income below $250,000 qualifies for some type of aid.
  • Every year students leave billions of dollars in financial aid unclaimed.
  • There is some aid that is not based on income, but you still must complete the FAFSA to qualify for.
  • You will want to have a FAFSA on file in case your family's financial situation changes.
  • Some colleges take your application more seriously if they see their name listed as a college on your FAFSA application.


Step Nine:  Research Scholarships

There are several different places you can look for scholarships.

  1. Check out the Local Scholarships listed on our Scholarship Website.  Check back often and pay attention to announcements!
  2. Research "Scholarships for Incoming Freshmen" at the college you plan to attend.  Often these scholarships are automatic if you meet the criteria.  Some you will need to attend a scholarship competition to receive.
  3. Research "Private Scholarships" at the college you plan to attend.
  4. Research national scholarships using some of the scholarship search engines listed on our Scholarship Website.
  5. Research Michigan grants and scholarship programs.