Student Aid Checklist: Middle School

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Student Aid Checklist: Middle School

Believe it or not, there are a few things you can do as early as middle school to help prepare for the college bills you'll face in the future.

Study hard and participate in extracurricular activities.

Good grades and widespread interests will make you an attractive applicant when it's time to go to college. In addition, a diverse background may make you eligible for more grants, scholarships, and school-based aid.

There is no downside to being well-rounded.

If you don't already have one, get a Social Security number.

If you're like most people in the United States, your mom and dad applied for your Social Security number when you were born (thanks mom and dad!), and you've had it ever since. However, if you never got a Social Security number or if you lost your card, now would be a good time to get a new or replacement card.

Visit Social Security Online or call 1-800-772-1213 for an application.

You'll need a Social Security number to apply for federal student aid.

Consider opening a savings account.

You may not have a lot of money to save yet, especially if you're too young to get a summer job. But having a savings account is a great first step to good money management that will contribute to a successful financial future.

Whenever you get some birthday cash from grandma or earn a little money through babysitting, put a portion of it directly into the bank. If you never see the money, you won't miss it. And before you know it, you'll have a nice nest egg set aside when it's time to start college.

Make savings a top priority.

Start thinking about the type of college you may want to go to.

You're young, and you may not want to think about college when you're still getting used to middle school. Fortunately, you don't need to make any decisions just yet.

But middle school is a good time to start thinking about what you want for the college experience. Are you interested in an urban setting? Do you want to go to a big school? Does it matter if the school is co-ed or not? Think about what type of environment may be most fulfilling for you.

The earlier you narrow down your options, the more prepared you'll be when you begin your college search.