February is recognized as Financial Aid Awareness Month, and financial aid staff at Spoon River College will be helping to spread awareness about the aid process, including how to apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and SRC Foundation scholarships.

“We want students and their parents to fully understand how a financial aid package is determined,” said Jo Branson, director of financial aid at Spoon River College. “We’ll be working to dispel some of the myths that surround financial aid, as well as information about filing a FAFSA, which now completes a high school graduation requirement.”

During February 8 – February 12, Branson and members of her staff will host table events at Spoon River College campuses and centers. Students will be able to stop by and grab a snack, ask questions, and pick up financial aid information, including applications for SRC Foundation scholarships.

“Financial aid has to start with filling out the FAFSA application, because in addition to applying for federal funds, you’re also automatically applying for state funds like MAP (Monetary Awards Program). Filing a FAFSA is also the first step in applying for SRC Foundation scholarships.”

Branson said many students and their parents believe that there is an income cut-off (there’s not) or that students must wait until they are accepted to a college before filing the FAFSA application (they should not).

“How much income parents make is just one factor that can determine a student’s eligibility for federal grants, loans, or work study funds,” Branson said. “As far as when to apply for FAFSA, the answer is always sooner rather than later. Seniors can begin the process even before they graduate high school, and they are allowed to list more than one college if they haven’t made their final decision yet.”

There is also confusion over whether a student is independent or needs to use their parents’ income. “That question is not always as obvious as one might think. The FAFSA form asks a series of questions that will determine dependency status,” said Branson.

Table events are scheduled for Monday, February 8 and Thursday, February 11 in the second floor hallway in Macomb, and on Tuesday, February 9 and Wednesday, February 10 in the Snapper Café in Canton.