Applying for College During COVID 19 - FAQs

  • As you navigate the college application process in the era of COVID-19, we would like to address some commonly asked questions to help guide you in the process. 

    1. What are my college options? How can I select the best fit school for me? 

    When trying to select a college, it will be important for you to consider many factors including cost, location, campus life, and availability of academic programs to meet your career goals. The following information can help guide you in gathering information to make the best decision.  

    Virtual Tours and College Fairs 

    COVID 19 has caused colleges, and multiple other entities, to change the way they provide information to students. In-person campus tours have always been a valuable way for potential students to experience the feel of campuses they are considering. Many colleges are now providing virtual tours for potential students, along with virtual college fair experiences. Check out these resources: 

    • DFW Admissions Regional Network  
    • National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC)  
    • EMS ISD Virtual College Fair  
      • Coming October 21, 2020 
    • College Websites 
      • Check out the admissions pages, and the COVID 19 pages of specific colleges of interest to learn about event opportunities and tour information. Also, check out college YouTube channels for virtual tours and current student insight about campus life.  

    2. What is required to complete my college application? When should I begin the application process? 

    When applying to colleges, you must follow the application procedures and deadlines set by the colleges. Not all colleges are the same, please check the requirements and deadlines of each individual school. Seniors can begin completing and submitting applications now. It is best to apply early.  Due to COVID 19, colleges are changing some of the traditional requirements. Please see the information below for common changes that are occurring.  

    • Deadlines - Check the admission’s websites for each school to determine both the application deadline and the scholarship deadline. Meet your deadlines to be considered for admittance and/or scholarship awards. 
    • College Entrance Testing (SAT/ACT/TSI) - Many schools are turning to a test optional policy. 
      • List of Test Optional Colleges – Search this database for schools that have adopted a test optional policy for Fall 2021 admissions. 
      • Texas Christian University, Texas Woman’s University, University of Dallas, University of North Texas, University of Texas at Arlington, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, The University of Texas at Austin, and Texas Tech University are among Texas colleges that are now test optional for Fall 2021. 
      • Tarrant County College and Dallas Community College District are working with students unable to complete TSI requirements due to COVID 19 restrictions. Students may be able to enroll in select college coursework and complete TSI testing remotely after course enrollment.  
    • Holistic Review 
      • All factors within the application requirements are considered versus only considering Class Rank/Test Score. When completing your applications, include all required information. Also, consider providing optional items, such as optional essays, in order to allow the college to see characteristics that would make you a good fit for the school.  
    • Other Application Requirements – Determine all application requirements by visiting the specific college admissions website.
    • Application Platforms – Check your college admissions website to determine the options you have for completing the application to your schools of choice. Use the tools below to help you learn how to use two common application portals. 
      • Apply Texas - Application portal used by many Texas schools. 
      • Common App - Application portal used by many private colleges and out-of-state schools. 

    3. If the college I am applying to is test optional for Fall 2021, should I still take the SAT/ACT? 

    COVID 19 has provided a barrier to students being able to complete college entrance exams such as the SAT, ACT, and TSI. Colleges recognize the barrier and are implementing policies to provide flexibility for students unable to test. You need to consider the following factors when deciding if you should still take the SAT/ACT. 

    • Not all schools are test optional at this point. Please check your specific college’s policy to determine if testing is required.
    • If you take the SAT or ACT and submit your scores to colleges, those scores could be used as a part of the admissions review process. High scores could help you be more competitive for admissions and scholarship awards. Click below to see how some popular colleges are utilizing SAT/ACT scores. 
    • Certain scholarships may still require test scores as a part of their award criteria. Do your research when applying for scholarships to make sure you meet all the required criteria. 
    • If you do decide to take the SAT and/or ACT, check out the information below to see what to expect on test day. 

    4. What is the FAFSA? Do I need to complete the FAFSA? 

    The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This tool is valuable in determining grants and loans you may be able to use to pay for college. All students need to complete the FAFSA.   

    • The FAFSA form is free to complete and will help colleges and universities determine how much financial aid (grants, loans and/or scholarships) you may qualify to receive.  
    • The FAFSA opens October 1, 2020. Pay attention to the specific college and state deadline for completing the FAFSA form. Class of 2020 high school Seniors will complete the FAFSA application for the 2021-2022 school year.
    • Each student and one parent must create an FSA ID, which is a username and password combination that allows you to sign your FAFSA form electronically. The FSA ID can be created prior to October 1.  
    • Documents you will need to complete the FAFSA application include student and parent social security numbers, driver’s license number, Federal tax return with W-2 information for 2019, and if not a U.S. citizen, your Alien Registration number.  

    5. What happens if my family’s financial situation has significantly changed from 2019?  

    When completing the FAFSA, you will be asked to enter information from your parent’s 2019 federal income tax return. COVID 19 has impacted many lives. If your family has experienced a significant change in income (for example, a job loss or unexpected drop in income), you may be eligible to have your financial aid adjusted. Follow the tips below. 

    • Complete the FAFSA questions as instructed on the application (including the transfer of tax return and income information).
    • Submit your FAFSA form, then contact the school you plan to attend to discuss how your current financial situation has changed.  
    • Note that the school's decision is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education. Visit for more information. 

    6. Who can I contact for help with my college applications? 

    EMS ISD High School Counselors and College and Career Readiness Specialists are here to assist you with questions you have concerning your next steps after high school. Please click the links for contact information for each campus.