A financial aid awareness program can be a valuable resource for students and parents as they learn the basics of financial aid for the first time. If you’re thinking of offering one of these helpful presentations at your school, here are a few things to consider as you make plans.

First, select a location/facility that’s convenient and large enough to accommodate participants. It’s important to choose a well-lit venue with any audio-visual equipment you might need, like a TV, computer, projector or screen. If a significant number of your students come from bilingual families, consider having printed materials translated.

Second, select a date that’s not too early to be effective — or too late for deadlines. Because the FAFSA process is accessible beginning January 1, it’s a good idea to hold the program no earlier than mid-to-late November — but no later than early February, as many school’s own financial aid deadlines are in February. Also, consider any potential conflicts that could prevent people from attending (sporting events, holidays, community festivals, etc.) Remember to give yourself plenty of time to get the word out about your program so students and parents can make plans to attend.

Finally, select a time that works best for a majority of attendees. Earlier than 7:00pm can sometimes be too soon for parents to finish work, come home and eat dinner. Later than 8:00pm can also be challenging for a weeknight. Try to keep your presentation within a reasonable length to keep everyone as attentive as possible.

If you choose to present information yourself instead of enlisting the help of another presenter, there is a sample PowerPoint presentation created by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid that is available for reference or use at www.fsa4schools.ed.gov/counselors.

Another valuable resource is the website of the South Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators at www.scasfaa.org. If you plan to host a financial aid event at your school, consider inviting your local director or a representative from SCASFAA to present.