Normally this time of year, many high schools and districts would be hosting in-person financial aid nights to boost FAFSA completion. Because of social distancing guidelines, many of these sessions need to become virtual. Read on for tips on how to host one and what information to include.
Tips for getting your virtual financial aid night off the ground:1. Organize a Zoom for parents.
If you can do this a few weeks before FAFSA and TASFA open (October 1) more power to you. Many families have never filled out these applications before and are nervous, so having an educational event is helpful. Ensure that your Zoom room capacity is large enough for the number of parents you are expecting. Invite university admissions representatives to walk parents through the application process and help answer questions. Some schools and districts like to package financial aid information in with a senior parent night. The image below is a flyer from Humble ISD:
2. Cover the important stuff.
Dannette Young, a counselor at Comal ISD, recommends covering the following information in your virtual financial aid night:
Types of Aid
- Student loans: federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, private student loans
- Grants: federal Pell Grant
- Scholarships: academic, need-based, and local scholarships
- Work-study programs
Cost of attendance (COA)
Estimated family contribution (EFC)
Student Aid Report (SAR)
Who is the parent/guardian?
IRS Data Retrieval Tool
How to create an FSA ID
What happens next after submitting the FAFSA?
What to do if you are selected for verification?
Financial aid for undocumented students: TASFA3. Make it bilingual.
Providing information in English and Spanish is especially crucial in Texas. You should consider providing a Spanish breakout room during the virtual event.4. Create a recording.
Emailing a recording after the event helps attendees solidify the information they learned. It also ensures that those who couldn’t attend live have access to the information.5. Host follow-up sessions with an expert.
After the event, send an email blast to those who attended, inviting them to register for additional help sessions. Put folks in Zoom breakout rooms with a financial aid adviser to help them troubleshoot specific FAFSA/TASFA issues they might be having. Connect with college or university prospective student centers to help host one-on-one financial aid sessions with your students and families for direct expert advice.6. Brush up on your own knowledge.
Prepare yourself so that you can prepare your students for success. Check out the FAFSA and TASFA modules in the Texas OnCourse Academy to get the 411 on everything financial aid! Both Academy training modules guide you through:
- Additional resources
The FAFSA and TASFA modules have Additional Resources sections that provide quick access to relevant PDFs, website links, YouTube videos, and more. These are great at-a-glance reminders for you, but they are also shareable. Pick and choose what to print and hang in your classroom, hand out to parents, or distribute to students. Log in to the Academy to access.