Scholarships and other forms of financial aid are critical for many students planning to go to college and for current students. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important first step for families who want to receive aid, but it can be overwhelming.

To help students, families, and community members cut through the confusion, Virginia Tech’s Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid began hosting FAFSA Fridays in 2014. They have open hours every Friday in February for individuals and families to stop by their office with no appointment needed and get help completing the FAFSA. The office is in the Student Services Building located at 800 Washington Street SW.

Last Friday, the office helped more than a dozen families during a two-hour period. Representatives fielded questions and helped families complete the application.

“I wanted to cry when I looked at it so I thought I’d just go in and have someone explain it to me,” said Lauren Essenmacher, a junior double majoring in human nutrition, foods, and exercise and food science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who stopped by the first FAFSA Friday. “It was helpful.”

The office will have three additional opportunities this month, including:

  • Feb. 12, 3-7 p.m.
  • Feb. 19, 3-5 p.m.
  • Feb. 26, 3-7 p.m.

Students do not have to be current or prospective Virginia Tech students to attend the event. Community members who plan to attend other colleges and universities are still welcome to come.

“February is a key time for financial planning for students and their families. Virginia Tech has a priority deadline of March 1 for the FAFSA. It’s critical to meet that deadline so you can be considered for the most possible aid,” said Beth Armstrong, director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. “If you miss the deadline, you may miss out on grants and other forms of aid. We hope this event can help alleviate some stress and get an application in on time.”

Families who want to attend a FAFSA Friday are encouraged to create a FAFSA ID ahead of the event, which can be done online. An ID must be created for the student and another for a parent, if the student is a dependent. In addition, information about 2015 income will be needed to complete the application.

“One reason we hear that families miss the priority deadline is that they waited until after they filed their taxes for the year. Don’t let that delay you,” Armstrong said. “You can use estimated federal income tax information in order to meet the priority deadline and then update with the actual number later on.”

In addition to the FAFSA, the office also encourages continuing students and first-year applicants to apply for scholarships. The general scholarship application at Virginia Tech is due on Monday, Feb. 15. Students can also check with their colleges and departments for additional scholarship opportunities, with varying process requirements and deadlines.

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