Financial Aid

February is Financial Aid Awareness Month

Learn about all of the financial aid options you have to help you pay for school. Including, how to ask for financial aid, who provides money and when you'll get the funds you need.

Shawna Newman

February 01, 2024

February is Financial Aid Awareness Month
February is a short month full of notable events and celebrations. But, did you know, February is also Financial Aid Awareness Month?

What is Financial Aid Awareness Month?

Counselors, educators and financial aid advisors use the month of February to educate students on the resources they can use to help them pay for school. High school seniors, current college students, and parents find the below financial aid articles the most helpful:

What's the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the starting point students use to help them pay for school. Completion of this important form is the key to gaining federal and state grants, such as the Pell Grant. Like scholarships, grants do not have to be paid back. It's essentially free money to help you pay for college! Typically, high school seniors and their parents apply for the FAFSA on October 1, before the start of the fall semester. The 2024-25 FAFSA is a circumstantial year with the FAFSA Soft Launch and subsequent timeline adjustments. The 2025-2026 FAFSA is expected to be opened on, October 1, 2024.
Colleges also use individual FAFSA results to determine financial aid award packages for each student. College students should renew their FAFSA yearly. Learn more about the form and how to start the FAFSA process:
2024-25 Financial Aid and FAFSA State Deadlines Why Parents Should Fill Out the FAFSA What Does the 2024-25 FAFSA Soft Launch Mean for You? Next Steps: You've Submitted Your FAFSA States Pass Laws Requiring FAFSA Completion

How Financial Aid Works

Students should apply for financial aid every year. To apply for financial aid, students need to submit or renew their FAFSA.

The Four Types of Financial Aid

Scholarships In most cases, you don't need to complete your FAFSA to receive scholarship money. 24 Scholarships to Apply for in 2024 Federal, State and Institutional Grants You must complete or renew your FAFSA to receive this type of financial aid. What’s the Pell Grant? What’s the TEACH Grant? Federal Work-Study You must complete your FAFSA to qualify for any federal work-study program. What’s Work Study? Federal and Private Student Loans If you need to borrow money to pay for college, Federal student loans should be your first choice. Private student loans should be your final option. There are, however, student loan options available that offer reasonable terms. How Do Most Families Pay for School? The FAFSA opens October 1 and there are three deadlines: College Schools set their own priority deadline for the FAFSA. State Each state has its own FAFSA deadline. These funds are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Federal This is the final deadline. It occurs on June 30 of the school year you’re applying for. Colleges will then use your FAFSA form to create a financial aid award package. This package includes all forms of financial aid. It's up to you to determine what works best for your financial situation. You can appeal for your financial aid award package.

Filling Out Your FAFSA

Find what you need to fill out the FAFSA and other helpful financial aid tools: FAFSA Checklist 10 FAFSA Mistakes that Affect Financial Aid

Financial Aid 101

Understand what common terms you may encounter when working with all types of financial aid. Learn the best tools to help you understand how it all works: Student Aid Index (SAI) Calculator Understand Your Student Aid Report 15 Questions to Ask Your Financial Aid Office Questions to Ask About Your Financial Aid Package Dropping Out Means Paying Back Financial Aid

Financial Aid Resources

When it comes to paying for school, things do not always go as planned. Below are some common concerns, and student or family circumstances related to financial aid: How Do I Become Independent on the FAFSA If I Am Under Age 24? Does Filing a FAFSA Obligate You in Any Way?
Are Parents Responsible for Repaying a Child's Student Loans?
Financial Aid without Filing the FAFSA?

Scholarship Resources

Scholarships are forms of aid, too. Discover everything about scholarships, from how you can better fill out applications to maximizing your opportunities to win more. Are Financial Aid and Scholarships the Same Thing? Scholarship Best Practices Fastweb's Scholarship Directory Scholarship Scam Red Flags

Student Loan Resources

Sometimes, you must take out loans to pay for school. Start your student loan journey informed with help from these articles: Loan Comparison Calculator College Cost Projector Calculator Borrowing for College: How Much is Too Much?

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Shawna Newman

Managing Editor, Contributing Writer

Shawna Newman is the Managing Editor and a writer at Fastweb. She has over 10 years of experience in higher education. Her direct work with college admissions teams, financial aid officers, college deans, ...

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