Nikolay Storonsky is the founder and CEO of fintech start-up, Revolut.

Revolut, the biggest European digital bank with 13 million users, is close to applying for a banking license in the U.S., CNBC has learned exclusively.

The London-based fintech firm plans on applying for a charter with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and California’s Division of Financial Institutions within weeks, said people with knowledge of the matter.

The move from Revolut, valued at $5.5 billion in a February fundraising round, is the latest example of one of a new breed of digital challengers seeking to become a regulated bank. In March, payments giant Square won approval to start a bank. Earlier this year, Lending Club, a fintech pioneer, bought Radius Bank for $185 million in part to gain a national bank charter.

Even though Revolut’s bank charter will be with California, it will allow the lender to operate widely throughout the U.S. via interstate agreements, said one of the people, who declined to be identified speaking about the start-up’s private plans.

Still, its move to apply for a state banking charter rather than one through a national regulator like the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency drew questions from some industry observers.

The U.S. financial regulatory regime is large and fragmented, and fintech startups have taken several different approaches to breaking into the market. The most successful so far, like Chime and Current, have simply partnered with existing banks.

Square’s bank will be an industrial-loan company based in Utah and supervised by the Utah Department of Financial Institutions and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Last month, cryptocurrency exchange Kraken Financial won a bank license in Wyoming.

Meanwhile, state financial regulators have clashed with the OCC over its move to create a special charter for fintech firms.

Chad

By Cecilia Clark

An influx of college financial aid applications this year means that money could run out for students who don’t file early.

Due to financial strain caused by Covid-19, nearly 40% of families that didn’t previously plan to apply for federal financial aid now expect to do so, according to a recently released survey from Discover Student Loans.

The federal government, states, colleges and other organizations use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to award financial aid. You must complete the FAFSA to be considered for financial aid.

>> Plus, from Robert Powell’s Retirement Daily on TheStreet: 529 Plans Are Good for More than College Tuition

You have 21 months to submit the FAFSA for any given academic year. For the 2021-22 school year, the FAFSA opens Oct. 1, 2020, and closes June 30, 2022. But that doesn’t mean you should wait.

“There is no downside to applying early, but a lot of risk in applying late,” says Manny Chagas, vice president and head of marketing and product at Discover Student Loans.

Here’s why you should file the FAFSA now.

Better Shot at More Free Money

The sooner you submit the FAFSA, the greater your chances are of getting free aid you don’t have to repay, such as grants or scholarships.

Federal Pell Grant money likely won’t run out, but other need-based aid, including that awarded through your school and state, is limited and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Jack Murphy, financial aid counselor at the University of Northern Iowa, named the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and his school’s tuition assistance grant as examples.

The Federal Work-Study Program also has limited funds, so you’ll want to file the FAFSA early to take advantage of it.

More Time to Appeal a Financial Aid Decision