Standardized tests are often one of the most frightening components of college planning for students. While hard work and dedication may have prepared your student for the test, a little foresight on one seemingly inconsequential part of the SAT form could save you big down the road.

Students who take the SAT are offered the opportunity to select up to four colleges where the College Board will send their score for free. If your student wishes to have the College Board send his or her SAT score for free, he or she must choose either at the time of taking the test or within nine days after completion of the test. If your student does select this option it means that his or her score will not be available for review before the colleges receive it. If this option is not selected, students may send their scores to any school at a rate of $11.25 per institution.

Send or Not Send?

You might hear from your school counselor that your student should send his or her score in as early as possible. While there seems to be plenty of speculation as to how much submitting an application early may affect a student’s chances of acceptance, there is no real correlation between acceptance and time of submitting a standardized test score. Getting those grades in before everyone else does not indicate a stronger demonstrated interest, either.

If students decide to send their grades in for free, they will be unable to utilize score-choice. Colleges usually have specific policies for this, but in general, score-choice allows students to pick which SAT scores to send if they have taken the SAT multiple times. If your student has requested that his or her SAT score be sent under the free option, score-choice is eliminated.

A low SAT score could cost you.

If we simplify the types of aid your student could receive towards his or her college education, we can break it down into two groups: merit-based aid and need-based aid. Need-based aid is, as the name implies, the type of aid meant for students of lower-income families. Merit-based aid is aid that is earn based on a student’s grades, standardized test scores, or extracurricular activities.

Students can increase their likelihood of receiving merit-based aid with a higher SAT score. For some scholarships or other awards, an SAT score can be a criterion for eligibility. We stress the importance of merit-based aid to our clients, and recent trends seem to support our favor of them. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) recently showed that a growing number of colleges increasingly favor merit-based aid compared to need-based aid. If your student sends a poor SAT score in too early, it could mean missing out on some invaluable financial aid and scholarship money towards his or her education.

Best Option for You.

While you and your student may be tempted by the short-term financial benefits of free score transfers, it could help you in the long run to wait before having your student send his or her SAT results to schools. A lot of students decide to retake the SAT to bump up their scores. That option, which could be crucial to your student’s acceptance could be taken away if you’re not patient. And after all, isn’t your student’s future college acceptance worth a little more than $11.25? This is one strategy that we use at Parros College Planning along with many others to set your student apart from the crowd. We are welcoming new students into our program every day isn’t this the time for you to check us out?