Apply for college grants at the earliest possible occasion.
For federal financial aid, you can submit an application for the following school year even if you are not yet accepted to college. This can help you to avoid delays later on. In general, this is possible since the funds will be provided only after enrollment.
When you fill out the application forms, you should be very careful not to make errors. Go over the provided information several times and ask someone else to have a look as well.
You may also have to make a number of other decisions during the application process.
When you apply for a federal grant, for instance, you will be able to state your interest in a federal student loan as well. That is why it makes sense to plan the management of your finances in advance.
Finally, you should get well organized to manage the whole process and all the paperwork effectively.