Workshops and Clinics
The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis offers students and families a variety of workshops and clinics to reduce the confusion and clarify the processes associated with securing financial aid for postsecondary education.
Members of the Scholarship Foundation’s Student Advocate and Advising staff provide this assistance periodically during the year at Foundation offices in St. Louis County and at high schools and community colleges throughout the St. Louis region, as well as at facilities provided by community groups that emphasize the importance of higher education.
All sessions are free and open to the public. Please visit our Calendar for details on any of the workshops described below.
Financial Aid Basics
This workshop introduces students and parents to the basics of paying for higher education and helps them identify people, organizations, and sources of information that can help them as they prepare to address the financial challenges.
The workshop reviews the various federal and state aid programs available to students, discusses eligibility requirements, explains the best ways to search for financial assistance, and shows families how federal programs and educational institutions calculate financial need.
This workshop explains the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), including the part it plays in the application process and why it is important to complete the form accurately and submit it as early as possible when seeking financial aid.
Although the FAFSA is much less complex than it used to be, there still is much to learn about completing and submitting this form, which is a mandatory part of applying for virtually all financial aid programs.
Workshop materials address frequently asked questions, troubleshoot some unique scenarios, and make recommendations for handling other special circumstances. The presentation and accompanying workbook walk families through the FAFSA one page at a time, pointing out specific areas that tend to create confusion.
FAFSA Completion Clinics
These clinics complement the FAFSA workshops. On Saturday mornings in February, Student Advocates help students and families complete their FAFSAs during 30-minute sessions at the Foundation’s offices. When students call to schedule an appointment, they learn what documents they must bring with them to complete the FAFSA. Students and families receive individualized assistance with their form, as well as information and guidance about what comes next in the financial aid process. In most cases, FAFSAs can be completed and filed immediately at Scholarship Foundation clinics.
Application Completion Clinics
People needing help with their Scholarship Foundation application can take advantage of completion clinics at the Foundation’s offices starting several days before the annual April 15 deadline. Students can receive one-on-one assistance completing and submitting the application and supporting materials. Student Advocates and other Foundation staff members also are available to answer specific questions about program requirements and the financial aid process.
Understanding Financial Aid Award Letters
Educational institutions typically send financial aid award letters to applicants in early to mid-April. The letters describe the financial aid package the institution is offering the student, information that is essential in determining whether the student can afford to attend. But these letters also can cause confusion and misunderstanding, because a school that appears to be the least costly is not necessarily the most affordable.
Determining affordability requires careful comparisons of different schools’ financial aid packages, and this workshop explains how to do that. It shows how to review both the amount and kind of financial aid being offered, as well as any remaining expense gap that a student and family would have to cover on their own, most often by taking out student loans and going into debt.
The accompanying workbook includes a sample of a completed comparison form that illustrates how best to compare the information in financial aid award letters. It also contains a blank comparison form that families can use in comparing the award letters they actually receive.