January is Financial Aid Awareness Month

January is Financial Aid Awareness Month Gov. William J. Janklow recently issued a proclamation declaring January 2003 as South Dakota Financial Aid Awareness Month. South Dakota Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SDASFAA), Education Assistance Corporation (EAC), and high schools across the state have joined in this effort to inform South Dakota families about the availability of financial aid to help pay for college.

SDASFAA and EAC will be sponsoring a chat in which South Dakota students and their parents can receive answers to their financial aid questions from the comfort of their home computer. Anyone with Internet access is encouraged to join the chat, which will be held Monday, Jan. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. To join, simply visit www.mapping-your-future.org, click on the "Live Chat" icon, and follow the directions. Mapping Your Future, is a Web site offering free college, career, and financial aid information, is powering this chat. Mapping Your Future is sponsored in part by EAC.

Financial Aid Awareness Month heightens the notion that students and parents need to be thinking about completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) sooner rather than later. Completing the FAFSA is required to determine eligibility for not only federal financial assistance, but is also used by many organizations that award scholarships. High schools across South Dakota have been provided awareness kits courtesy of SDASFAA to help spread the word about federal financial aid and issues students should be thinking of now in order to prepare themselves financially to enter college later.

EAC has developed additional resources to help high school counselors teach their students about financial aid. A Financial Aid Information Night video is available, which includes information on financial aid programs and processes. Two PowerPoint presentations are also available. The first, titled Financial Aid Basics, covers the same topics as the Financial Aid Information Night video and works well as either a companion piece to the video or on its own. The second PowerPoint covers the completion and submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

High Schools across the state are also offering local Financial Aid Information Nights for students and their parents to attend. For more information, contact your local high school.

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