College Planning & Financial Aid

College Planning/Financial Aid

  • The Common Application is an Undergraduate college admission application that seniors may use to apply to any 900+ colleges and universities.
  • Minnesota State University System has a link to the universal application and links to explore all of the schools in this system.
  • Virtual Campus Tours lets you search by state and school to see a virtual tour and other information about the colleges.
  • The Minnesota Office of Higher Education has useful college planning and financial aid resources on their website.
  • Federal Student Aid provides detailed information about the FAFSA, the FSA ID, IRS data retrieval tool, and what happens after your FAFSA is submitted.  Use previous year federal taxes to file the FAFSA (ideally transferred with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool embedded in the FAFSA.)
  • 12 Common FAFSA Mistakes 
  • College Information Workshops.   Macalester College hosted a series of online workshops this past year discussing various college topics, including writing college essays, navigating financial aid, and completing The Common App.

College Visits and Fairs

See a list of colleges sending representatives to Cathedral. Students interested in attending can stop in the counseling office to sign up.

Here are the upcoming college visits:

  • St. Thomas University – March 12th,  11:30- 12:30
  • Concordia Moorhead University – March 25th, 11:15-12:30
  • CSB & SJU – March 26th, 11:15-12:30
  • SCSU – April 9th, 11:15-12:45


  • Pre-ACT

    All 10th graders take the Pre-ACT, typically in the spring.

    This is essentially a practice test that includes the same subtests that are on the ACT  (English, Math, Reading, and Science). The score report provides useful information about skills students can work on to better prepare for the ACT.

  • PSAT

    All juniors take the PSAT in October each year. This test is sponsored by College Board and is a standardized test that provides practice for the SAT. It gives students feedback on skills needed for college.

    Understanding PSAT

College Admissions and Entrance Exams

  • ACT

  • SAT

  • College Admissions and Test Optional Information

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and difficulties for students to complete college entrance exams, many colleges and universities have stated they will be “test optional” for the next few calendar years. Others have said they will remain test optional. You can check school websites to determine their testing requirements.

    • In gathering feedback from colleges about how this has altered their admissions process we have heard the following:
      • Schools will use a holistic review process with an emphasis on the high school academic record — specifically grades, course selection and academic rigor. Studies show these are a strong predictor of college GPA and graduation.
      • The review process for admissions may take longer
      • For more selective colleges, core coursework should exceed the entrance requirements.
      • Preparation for the major/college for which the student seeks admission is important.
      • Demonstrated interest is also an important part of the application review.  Engaging in virtual or in-person campus events is encouraged.  Colleges value students who have taken the time to get to know the school.
    • Many colleges have revised criteria for academic/merit scholarships which may or may not include test scores. It is wise to ask about these criteria to determine if your student should take or re-take the ACT.


When beginning your scholarship search, your best opportunities will be close to home. Check local resources such as service clubs or parents’ places of employment, and, most importantly, be sure to check the colleges where you are applying for scholarship opportunities. Many are based on select criteria such as:

  • Grades
  • Financial need
  • Chosen college
  • Athletic ability
  • Gender
  • Chosen major
  • Religious affiliation
  • Military background
  • Race
  • Leadership ability
  • Visual/Performance Art ability

Continue to check this page often, as more scholarships will be added throughout the year! Our local scholarship program will have information posted mid-March each year.

Here is a website with several national scholarships: Top 175 College Scholarships.

  • Current available scholarships, academic year: 2023/24

  • Current Available Scholarship Resources & PDFs

AP and College in the Schools

Advanced Placement (AP) courses offer students an academic challenge and the opportunity to potentially earn college credit. In mid-May students in AP courses take an extensive College Board designed exam assessing their progress in the course. The exam is graded 1-5, and college credit may be granted for scores of 3 and above, depending on the individual college policies. Students completing these courses receive a 4.5 grade point value for an “A” earned in an AP course. Please see links below for examples of the credit granting system.

AP credit – University of Minnesota

AP credit – College of St. Benedict/ St. John’s University

In addition to AP coursework, Cathedral offers College in the Schools/Dual Enrollment courses. These courses are specific to

Spanish – credit offered through Minnesota Southwest State University

Analytical Writing, Chemistry and Human Biology – credit offered from St. Cloud State University

CIS and AP courses do have small fees charged by the College Board and the Universities.