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Fastweb Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary

Thanks for being a part of our journey. Here’s to 20 years…and many more!

Elizabeth Hoyt

May 22, 2015

Fastweb Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary
The year was 1995 and the Internet boom was just taking off. Dot-coms were a risky venture; after all, the World Wide Web was still a new concept to many. But, on May 22, 1995, one dot-com was founded, regardless of risk, because it had a higher purpose: to help students find scholarships to pay for school. It was the first of its kind – a free scholarship matching web site. It was also one of the first 100 commercial websites in the United States.
By the end of its first day, 270 students had already searched for scholarships on the site, which may not sound like a lot. But, remember, it was the early days of the internet. That was 20 years ago. Now, the site known as Fastweb, is celebrating 20 years of being the premiere online resource for paying and preparing for college. Since the start, Fastweb has helped more than 50 million students pay for school. Today, there are more than 9 million active members – that’s a far leap from our first day!
How did this happen? Let’s start from the beginning. Fastweb was founded by an Internet pioneer named Larry Organ. Larry Organ had an original idea – he believed that students should be connected to scholarships without having to pay for the service. At the time, this concept was completely new. The web site created was super simple and students began their search by answering two very basic questions, “What’s your major?” and “Want to be impressed?”
In just one year, the site’s scholarship, grant, loan and fellowship listings grew to more than 180,000 – a virtual explosion from what the site began with. Within that same first year, the free scholarship search site was renamed Fastweb. Why the name? It’s actually an acronym, which was extremely popular in the early days of the internet. Fastweb actually stands for (F)inancial (A)id (S)earch (T)hrough the (W)eb. It was about that point in time that the newly-named site began incorporating financial aid advice as well. Enter nationally renowned financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz, founder of into the mix. Kantrowitz began to contribute financial aid advice content for Fastweb, helping the site gain national recognition with his name association, a link to Fastweb on and by joining Fastweb’s advisory board. By 1999, Fastweb and FinAid merged into one organization. At that point, Fastweb’s database had expanded to 400,000 awards. The word was spreading quickly: Fastweb was being recommended by teachers, guidance counselors and other school officials to students looking for ways to pay for college. When greatness occurs, worldwide companies notice – and, often, want to invest. This was exactly the case with Fastweb. Monster Worldwide was looking to expand its reach within the higher education web sector. On July 12, 2001, Monster Worldwide, publisher of the well-known job search web site, acquired Fastweb. This relationship proved extremely beneficial for both companies, then and in present day. In just a few years, by June 2004, Fastweb grew to more than 25 million registered users and Fastweb’s awards database had grown to more than 600,000 awards. Today, Fastweb matches unique scholarships to students in all quantities and all sorts of subjects, like the $1k Annual Signet Classic Scholarship Essay Contest, the $10k ”From Failure to Promise” Essay Contest and the $5k Girls Impact the World Film Festival Scholarship - just to name a few. Fastweb continues to guide students through the college process, give practical advice on financial aid and, of course, match students to scholarships and internships. In fact, 1-in-3 college-bound seniors use Fastweb as a resource, a figure we’re extremely honored to share. Additionally, Fastweb has added valuable site features, such as Featured Scholarships, Sweeps and Promos, a Student Lending Center and Featured Internships, all of which are additional opportunities for students to find ways to pay for school. With over 1.5 million scholarships listed in the awards database, totaling $3.4 billion in scholarships, Fastweb is delighted to celebrate the past 20 rewarding years, a fulfilling present and a bright future ahead. “I’m proud to say that Fastweb’s present day goals remain the same as they were 20 years ago – connecting students and their families with opportunities to help pay for college,” said Mark Nelson, Managing Director of Fastweb. Yes - we’re proud to say our vision hasn’t wavered and that helping students free of charge has always been the focus of our last 20 years – and will be for many years to come. “We’ve just improved upon the original model over the past two decades, which is beneficial for our members,” said Nelson. Nelson continued, “Connecting students with invaluable opportunities to help pay for an education – that’s everything. That’s what inspires us.” Thanks for being a part of our journey. Here’s to 20 years…and many more!

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