Some colleges, especially private schools, require an essay as part of their admissions process for college freshmen. That essay may also help when it comes to paying for college, according to the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.

Generally, the more exclusive the college, the more important the essay may be in admissions and financial aid decisions.

Essays let schools learn more about students than just what the application shows. That gives writers a chance to set themselves apart.

Students should put time and effort into an admissions essay. Colleges want students who can express themselves clearly, using proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. It may take several drafts to get it right, but the essay needs to be well written and free of errors. Students should have a teacher, school counselor or parent review the essay before submitting it to the college. The better the essay, the better a student's chance of being accepted at a top school.

KHEAA is a public, non-profit agency established in 1966 to improve students' access to college. It provides information about financial aid and financial literacy at no cost to students and parents. KHEAA also helps colleges manage their student loan default rates and verify information submitted on the FAFSA. For more information about those services, visit www.kheaa.com.

In addition, KHEAA disburses private Advantage Education Loans on behalf of its sister agency, KHESLC. For more information about Advantage Education Loans, visit www.advantageeducationloan.com.

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