College Initiatives

NEW! Updated 04/15:

As schools take the necessary precautions amid the COVID-19 outbreak, we offer resources and guidelines that will help College Counselors effectively advise current seniors through their college and financial aid application processes. Please refer to the Cristo Rey Network COVID-19 Response website for additional Academic, CWSP, and College Initiatives resources.

Student Prioritization Recommendations

What are top priorities for CRN College Counselors and Alumni Advisors? What resources are available to help you support students?

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has created a number of special circumstances for students, families and the institutions they are engaging with. This is particularly true for the Class of 2020. As college decision deadlines, financial aid packages, orientations, and registration dates are all in flux, we encourage the college teams at your campus to continue to support the college decision and matriculation process for the current senior class.

We suggest the following remain of the highest priority to your team:

#1: Support all seniors in making a final college decision that is affordable, data-driven, and match-minded

#2: Support all college students in persisting through the end of the semester, leveraging available emergency assistance, assessing risk of financial insecurity, and prioritizing first-year students and/or vulnerable populations (e.g. students who are out-of-state, have high outstanding balances, are on academic probation, etc)

As you support your seniors in making their final college decision, we offer the following guidance.

Student/Counselor Check-Ins

Goal: Counselors should schedule 1-2 check-ins with seniors starting now until the end of the semester. Use texting apps, email, or Google Voice to inform students of the process and schedule appointments. Use Calendly to ensure students can quickly schedule a time with you without the need to exchange many emails. Follow the preferred method of communication of your school’s leaders at all times. See our suggestions related to leveraging technology here.


Financial Award Letter Collection & Review

Final financial aid award letters are critical for college decisions, as they are an important step to ensuring affordability. Students who haven’t received award letters likely need support with submitting additional financial documents, and the list of these university requirements may often be found in the student’s university account (which they’ll need to set up using the instructions typically found in the student’s email.)

Make it a goal to collect ALL students’ financial aid award letters, and require award letters for any “top choices” named by the student. Encourage students to submit letters via email, dropbox, or Google form. Students can use a scanning app to turn pictures of award letters (or of any other documents) into PDFs. Make sure they make an appointment with you to review letters and issues with verification. Assume you are the only person reviewing and comparing award letters with your students.

Families who have experienced hardship should submit documentation for additional grants and scholarships and may choose to appeal their financial aid through an appeal letter (see resource below). As a reminder, many college financial aid and admission officers are still working remotely and you can reach out to them via phone or email.

Students whose out-of-pocket cost exceeds $5,000 should be flagged for support with their appeal letter as soon as possible.


  • Tax Return Transcript request FORM

  • Scanning Apps (CamScan, etc.)

  • Sample financial aid appeal letters may be found here.

  • Student and counselor financial aid comparison tools can be found here

Making the Final College Decision

With some exceptions, May 1st is still the deadline to enroll in most colleges, so while students and staff are working remotely, it’s important that you continue to prioritize support for seniors who need to matriculate by May 1. We recommend having at least one advising conversation about college decisions with each student prior to May 1st. Please prioritize students who are at risk of attending an undermatch college by ensuring they and their parents/guardians understand their options.

As students share their final choices with you, ensure that they have completed the following:

Counselors should track all admission decisions, financial aid awards and matriculation requirements in a shared tracker. We suggest you use the Counselor College Decision Tracker and/or the Student Matriculation Passport. Please view these 3-minute video overviews on the Counselor College Decision Tracker’s “Accepted College & Award” tab and “Matriculation Tracker” tab and spend some time exploring the tool.

Watch our Webinar on final college decisions and matriculation resources. We’ve created multiple tools for you and your students as they finalize decisions remotely. You may access the webinar video recording here or the deck here.


  • NACAC’s list of 1,000 college updates with campus events, deposit dates, and more may be found here

  • Most essential information students need to finalize their choice

  • ACCEPT Group’s list of colleges that have changed their deposit deadline to June 1, 2020, or later may be found here

Best-Fit College Options

Best-Fit College Options position our students for increased likelihood of graduation with minimal debt and competitive career options. As counselors continue to support the college decision process for the Class of 2020, we suggest prioritizing the following:

Academic Match:

Campus Culture Fit:

  • Student’s cultural and personal needs and interests align with the college’s mission, resources, first-gen and/or underrepresented minority programming, etc.


  • Out-of-pocket cost is less than or equal to $5,000

  • Minimizes student and parent debt (recommendation: only student federal loans)

Competitive Graduation Rates:

  • Among accepted options, college with higher graduation rate should be prioritized, given study of all CRN alumni showed college grad rate as strong indicator of success

(Note: Average college graduation rate for CRN college enrollees = 53%)

Matriculation Requirements

Complete with seniors prior to graduation(April - June)

Enrollment Requirements

Proof of enrollment (enrollment confirmation or deposit)

If living on campus:

      • housing application,

      • housing deposit,

      • recorded move-in date

Financial Aid

Proof of final financial aid award letter

      • Accepted financial aid award letter with loans

If taking out student loans

    • Proof of Entrance Loan Counseling

    • Proof of Master Promissory Note

FSA ID password and username recorded somewhere for Oct access

Successful start

Proof of placement testing completed OR date of testing

Proof of orientation registration

  • Recorded orientation date

Summer meeting scheduled with Alumni Advisor

Complete with students during the summer prior to Fall start (June - August)

Enrollment requirements:

  • Final transcript submitted to college

  • Proof of health insurance submitted to college

  • Immunization records submitted to college

Financial Aid

  • Confirm first semester out-of-pocket cost

  • Recommend Payment Plan application - If applicable

  • Recommend Parent Plus loan application - if applicable

Successful start

  • Meet with Alumni Advisor to review course registration following orientation

  • Recommend Plan to travel to campus plan

  • Recommend Office of Student Success registration

Student Matriculation Passport

Student Matriculation Passport includes:

Update Naviance Application and Decision Information

Students should document statuses of all college applications in Naviance. This includes admitted, denied, or waitlisted admission decisions. Record this information when you check in with students or require them to update it themselves. Please remember that this is very important for your ability to benchmark and use scattergrams next fall, and that all applications and admissions decisions must be logged in Naviance by June 5, 2020 in order to be included in your end-of-year Naviance Application Report.

If you have trouble accessing Naviance or need a new user account, talk to your Naviance account site manager or contact Stephanie with questions (


National Office Funding: Enrollment or Housing Deposit & Wave I

New! Senior Enrollment Deposit Funding Available: The Senior Deposit Funding intended to deploy up to $150 per student to cover or offset their college enrollment deposit may now be expanded to include students’ housing deposits. Students in the face of financial hardship may receive up $150 for either Enrollment or Housing deposit (not both) and counselors are expected to work with students and their colleges to waive or reduce these fees before using these funds. Before utilizing any awarded funds to cover college enrollment deposits, please 1) review all financial aid packages to ensure student is selecting the most affordable, best-fit college option, and 2) verify that you or the student have connected with the college of choice to first try to waive or reduce any enrollment fee. Funds are very limited so please distribute them with fidelity to the guidelines expressed here.\

College Success Fund Wave I RFP Now Open! Cristo Rey Network schools may apply for funds to seed the partial cost of a new, full-time college counselor or Alumni Advisor position being filled between July 1, 2020 and October 1, 2020. Learn more and apply here. Priority will be placed on applications for college counselor or Alumni Advisor positions that help schools achieve:

  • 1:200 college counselor-to-student ratio

  • At least one Alumni Advisor

Please contact Audrey Michaelson ( with questions.

Summer Immersion Programs for 9th -11th Grades (low priority)

While we recognize that seniors and current college enrollees are a counseling team’s top priority and expect certain summer immersion programs to extend their application deadlines or even alter their program schedules, please continue to support your students’ enrollment in summer program opportunities, an important element of their future college applications. Ensure you are in contact with summer program officers and support communication of key updates with students and their families.


Resources for Virtual Meetings

As seniors continue to apply to college, receive financial aid award letters, and make admissions decisions, counselors should connect with students virtually to provide support in these areas.

How can students contact me?

When you are communicating with students, make it clear when and how students can connect with you. As an example, you might be available during the morning for seniors and in the afternoon for 9th - 11th summer application support. Ensure your email and any other methods to contact you are clearly highlighted.

Counselors are encouraged to sign up for the Remind App and Google Voice. Ensure you follow your school’s student handbook for communication suggestions and requirements.

List of Colleges and Universities with Rolling / Flexible Admissions

Listed here and here you can find lists of colleges and universities that have rolling/ flexible admissions deadlines and are still accepting applications. Please keep in mind that due to changes to campus operations all over the country, some colleges may be slow to respond. Please connect with them via email or as suggested.

University Partners with rolling/flexible admissions deadlines

  • Albion College

  • Benedictine College

  • Dominican University

  • John Carroll University

  • Loras College

  • Marquette University

  • Mount Mercy College

  • Mount Saint Joseph

  • Oklahoma City University

  • Rockhurst University

  • Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

  • Saint Peter’s University

  • St. John Fisher College

  • University of St. Mary

  • University of St. Francis

  • Xavier University

Counselor FAQs

If the student is missing award letters from colleges. Where can they find them?

  • On their STUDENT PORTAL. Most colleges send information via email or their acceptance letters about how to log into their student portal. On the portal, there is a financial aid section where you can find and accept your financial aid.

    • If the award letter is not on the student portal, the student may still need to complete verification. Find out if the student is missing requirements in the portal. Usually the missing documents can be found under “tasks” or the “student requirements” section.

  • Award letters can be found in a student’s EMAIL (school or personal, whichever they used to communicate with the institution) OR MAIL.

What information do students and parents/guardians need to make their post-secondary or college decision?

  1. Students should have all of their college application decisions before making a final selection.

  2. Students should have all of their award letters so that they and their family can see the cost of each option and make an informed decision about financing their post-secondary option.

  3. Students should be able to articulate HOW this college is the right fit for them by giving a detailed answer to the questions below:

    • How will this college help you meet your future educational and career goals?

    • Is this college financially sustainable for 4 years? What is your expected out-of-pocket cost per year? How much are you borrowing in federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans? How do these figures compare to other colleges?

    • What do you like most about this college and how is it different than other institutions?

    • How far away is this college from home, and how important is this proximity to your overall decision?

    • How do other underrepresented minorities typically fare at this college? What is the underrepresented minority graduation rate here? (Find this at

    • What are some challenges you might face specific to this college or post-secondary plan? How will you plan to overcome those challenges?

    • What campus resources are available to support you academically, financially, socially, and emotionally?

    • Is this college an academically ambitious option for me? Is it a match, undermatch, or overmatch?

    • Have I communicated all my response to these questions with my college counselor and my family? Do I understand all of the steps and deadlines related to enrolling in this university?

4. Sample parent communication outlining college counseling priorities here (available in English & Spanish)

5. For virtual college campus tours, refer to the links below:

What are University Partners' responses to COVID-19?

See survey results from University Partners here

Additional Resources

College Deadlines and Virtual Connection Opportunities

Additional Resources for Counselors and Students

  • College Greenlight national repository of COVID-19 related resources can be found here

  • University Partners survey results regarding their response to COVID-19 found here

  • Sample parent communication on May 1st decisions (English & Spanish version)

  • We are BIG fans of the College Essay Guy and encourage CRN counselors to adapt these resources for remote learning.

    • Student guide to understanding your award letter can be found here.

    • Student guide to self-care during the coronavirus can be found here.

  • Sample financial aid appeal letters for students whose financial circumstances have changed can be found here.

  • Facebook group “ACCEPT: Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today”

  • Ordering a Tax Transcript or Non-Filer Form: You are ORDERING a TAX RETURN for 2018

    • If your parent(s) have a social security number: You can also order over the phone at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). Remember you are ordering a TAX RETURN for year 2018.

    • If your parent(s) have an ITIN number, no social security number, or your parents do not file taxes, you need to fill out this 4506-T form and mail it to:

      • Internal Revenue Service
        RAIVS Team
        Stop 37106
        Fresno, CA 93888

Standardized Testing