Reminder: All males must file with Selective Service upon turning 18. You may file on-line by clicking on the selective service link above. Individuals who do not file will NOT be eligible for Federal financial aid.
What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is the money you receive from a variety of sources to help cover the cost of your education. The good news is that, regardless of income, most people are eligible for some form of financial aid. The financial aid sources available to a student attending college in Pennsylvania include:
A grant is a need-based form of financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Grants are generally provided by individual states or the federal government and include: Federal Pell Grants: This is the most common form of federal aid. They are need based, provided by the federal government and awarded by schools. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG): These grants are awarded by schools and provide assistance for undergraduates with the greatest financial need. The program gives priority to students who receive Federal Pell Grants.
A loan is a form of financial aid that must be repaid with interest. The main loan options are student loans, parent loans, and private loans. Federal programs for loans include: Federal Perkins Loans: These are available to students who demonstrate the most serious financial need. They are federally funded and awarded by the school. Generally, these loans have the best terms and conditions; however, they are usually small in amount due to limited funds. Federal Stafford (Subsidized and Unsubsidized) Loans: These loans are awarded on the basis of financial need and are regulated by the federal government. Students may be borrowing from a bank, a credit union, or directly from the government. A subsidized Stafford Loan is the loan of first choice, since the government pays the interest while students are in school. Students who do not qualify for a subsidized Stafford Loan may take out unsubsidized Stafford Loans. These students are responsible for paying the interest while still in school, but may postpone payment of interest and principal until after graduation. Any unpaid interest is capitalized once repayment begins. Federal PLUS Loans: These loans are for parents of undergraduate students. They are based on credit history and require a credit check. The interest rate is low and repayment begins within 60 days after the disbursement of funds to the parent.
Scholarships are a form of aid to help you pay your undergraduate tuition. Like grants, they do not have to be repaid. Generally, scholarships are reserved for students with special qualifications, such as financial need and/or academic, athletic, or artistic talent. Institutional scholarships can be based on financial need, academic ability, or outstanding talent. Many are offered by private colleges and universities, though thousands of private scholarships are also available from other sources.
Work study provides students with employment opportunities both on and off campus. Participation in a work-study program is typically based on the student’s financial need. Funding for work-study programs can come from either the federal or state level: Federal Work-Study Program: This program allows students to subsidize their tuition and expenses with on-campus jobs. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate financial need. State work-study programs work the same as the federal program, the only difference being the source of funding.
How Do I Apply for Financial Aid?
If you want to be considered for Federal financial assistance, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The quickest way to do this is online at: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. The FAFSA can be filed no earlier than January 1st of the year you will be attending college. However, the FAFSA may not be the only form you will need to submit. Incoming freshman may also need to complete the CSS Profile Application. Many Private colleges require the profile. Why? It gives financial aid administrators a broader set of data from which to derive your eligibility for institutional need-based assistance. You also complete the Profile much earlier than the FAFSA and many schools will provide a financial aid package earlier than would be possible if you wait to complete the FAFSA. Check with you college to see if you are required to complete the Profile or any other form.