Five Cool Features for Counselors in the New Financial Aid Toolkit

Like a messy bookshelf, the Internet can be a frustrating and overwhelming place to search for information. Developed in response to requests from the counselor and college access communities, the Department of Education launched the Financial Aid Toolkit. Available at FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov, the website is a “one-stop shop” aimed at guidance counselors and other advisers to help them prepare students for the process of planning and paying for a postsecondary education.

Whether you’ve already visited the Financial Aid Toolkit, or you’re just hearing about it for the first time, here are five helpful tips to get the most from the toolkit:

  1. Get a head start on helping students prepare for college. As you know, it’s never too soon for students to start identifying academic interests, understanding college costs, and planning for higher education. The toolkit’s Learn About Financial Aid section provides tips and resources for working with students through this planning process and includes videos, infographics, and publications such as the College Preparation Checklist, as well as updates on the FAFSA. You can also brush up on the basics of loan repayment. If you work with current student loan borrowers, this tool can serve as a resource to help you review with them the available options and help guide them toward a repayment plan that best meets their needs.
  1. Find resources to help make your event a success. Planning a financial aid night or FAFSA completion event? You can get tips and information on setting up an event, as well as resources to help make it a success. Our Conduct Outreach section also has other resources to help you reach students and spread the word about the availability of financial aid. You can find sample presentations and handouts on various financial aid topics, information on reaching specific audiences, such as parents, adult students, military families, and much more.
  1. Leverage Federal Student Aid’s social media content. Social media can be a great way to reach your students, but it can be challenging to come up with new content. The toolkit’s Social Media section shares content and resources to help meet your needs. We have suggested tweets and Facebook posts for FAFSA completion and loan repayment. We also provide information on how to leverage our content on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as our blog posts.
  1. Locate training online or in your area. If you’re looking for additional training for yourself, check out the Get Training section for information on training options provided by state and regional organizations. You can also explore the National Training for Counselors and Mentors (NT4CM) area to see if there’s a workshop near you, view a training webinar, and access training materials.
  1. Use the Search Resources section to find resources that meet your needs. Short on time or looking for something specific? Head straight to the Financial Aid Toolkit’s search option. We have consolidated Federal Student Aid’s resources into a searchable online database. You can see all our resources or filter the resources based on audience, topic, time of year, and type of resource.

The Department will continue updating the toolkit to include more information and resources. If you have any suggestions, you can use our Contact Us page to provide feedback. Now that you have access to resources covering the entire student financial aid lifecycle from preparing for college and applying for financial aid to repaying student loans, we strongly encourage you to explore this incredibly handy toolkit. Be sure to share and bookmark FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov today.

Dan Griffin is a confidential assistant at the U.S. Department of Education