It's the season when high school seniors have completed their college applications and (except for those who have their next few years set via early acceptance) are anxiously awaiting for word from their chosen schools. For many students, the thick envelope with enrollment forms is not going to be enough; they will also need substantial financial aid to pay their way through their college education.
For any student even considering applying for financial aid, the first stop after submitting your applications for admission should be the website of FAFSA - the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Since FAFSA forms can be submitted any time after January 1st, you should waste no time in getting moving on your financial aid application. Families should be aware that the form requests information that may not be fully available to you -- or fully calculated -- until you prepare your 2009 tax returns, for submission by April, 2010. Try to pull your financial information together as soon as possible. Even when parents will not be paying for college, students will generally need to include information on their parents' income and assets.
For students with learning differences, there is another important stop on the web. The Heath Resource Center at George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, in Washington, D.C. is a rich source of information for students with disabilities moving from high school to college. Their work extends to all kinds of disabilities, not just learning difficulties, but their depth of information on transition, financial aid, and other issues makes them a valuable resource for all students. They explain all different kinds of financial aid and include lists of scholarship resources. It's definitely worth a visit.