Handy Resources for Financial Aid Awareness Month
The financial community rallies around celebrating Financial Aid Awareness Month in February to provide important information to students and families about accessing federal, state, and institutional student aid. We’re here to help you easily put your hands on resources you can share with them.
Completing the FAFSA
Only students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) qualify to apply for federal grants, work-study, and loans, so all students should apply – regardless of their financial situation. Many opportunities to save on paying for college – e.g., free tuition in certain education systems, merit scholarships, etc. – are only available to students who complete the FAFSA.
Encouraging all students to complete the FAFSA has traditionally been the focus of Financial Aid Awareness Month. Now the FAFSA can be completed on the myStudentAid mobile app, and federal tax return information can be transferred using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool – so the days of helping families complete the FAFSA at Financial Aid Nights in February are dwindling on many campuses.
Still, there’s always value in face-to-face interaction and holding Q&A sessions. If you’re planning to do presentations about completing the FAFSA, one resource provides ready-made PowerPoints, along with messaging for various times of the year, videos, and links to numerous other resources: the FAFSA Messaging Calendar provided by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Most of the messaging you share will be via social media and digital media channels rather than in person, but this eight-page document includes plenty of handy links and a blueprint to start from, too.
Here are other valuable resources you may want to share or use with students and families that are related to completing the FAFSA.
- Completing the FAFSA: Everything You Should Know – US News.com
- FAFSA Checklist – National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)
- FAFSA Checklist – fastweb.com
- 11 Common FAFSA Mistakes – ED blog
- 3 Types of FAFSA Deadlines You Should Pay Attention To – ED blog
For Students Still Considering College
A great resource to share with your students and families is the Federal Student Aid YouTube channel. It has short videos that cover topics for those entering the higher education system for the first time, as well as current students and those who have left school. For visitors on campus who want a physical resource, this handy printable sheet from ED, Federal Student Aid at a Glance – 2020-21, answers basic questions about who gets federal aid, what steps they take to apply, where they go for assistance, and what to expect from the process.
Comparing Colleges. During February, some students and families may be receiving award letters from different schools and struggling to compare them. With costs broken down differently from one school to another, it can make comparing actual cost of attendance challenging to figure out. NASFAA created this handy Award Notification Comparison Worksheet to help students and families break out the costs so that they can make a more informed decision.
Share With Us
We want to hear what you’re doing to engage students and families in February. Share your ideas with your peers in the comments here and on LinkedIn. We’re all stronger when we can benefit from new ideas and resources.