Financial Aid consists of several different types: grants, student loans and scholarships. Grants and scholarships are what is referred to as "free money," or money that doesn't need to be repaid. You can find a detailed description of the types of financial aid in the Financial Aid 101 Presentation (see the link below).
Student loans are the way that most students fund the majority of their post-secondary education and are repaid after the student graduates or stops going to school. Federal and state student loans usually have low interest rates. Students usually have a 6 month period after their final semester before they have to repay their loans and can usually spread those loans over a payment period that works best for them (depending on their credit history), usually 10, 20 or 30 years.
Federal and state grants and student loans awards are based on a student's financial need. You must complete your FAFSA to be considered for these types of aid.
Scholarships are awarded by the student's post-secondary school or by private institutions. In most cases the amount a student is able to earn in scholarships is directly related to the amount of work they put into researching and applying for scholarships. Please see the Guidance: Scholarships page for more information.
Financial aid begins with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You will complete a FAFSA every year you are in college.
- The first step is to obtain an FSA ID* for the student and a parent. The FSA ID is used to electronically sign the FAFSA document. Your FSA ID will remain the same throughout college. There is a link to this site under resources.
- The second step is to gather the necessary documents. Generally the parent’s & student’s tax return will provide the necessary information.
- This year's seniors will be the first to use 2015 income information. Both the student and parent will need copies of the 2015 income tax forms, if applicable. If no tax forms were filed for 2015, parents will need to provide alternate income information - SSA, TANF, etc.
- When the student & parent’s taxes are complete, the FAFSA will need to be finalized.
- FAFSA window opens on October 1st for the NEXT school year, so 10/1/2016 for the 2017/2018 school year. There is a link under resources for the official FAFSA site.
- This is a free application and there are many alternate sites that charge a fee for submission. Please use the link below to be sure you are on the correct page.
- IN ORDER FOR A STUDENT TO BE CONSIDERED FOR FINANCIAL AID FROM THE SCHOOL - It is important to verify each school’s priority deadline for FAFSA filing.
* The FSA ID for identifying yourself and signing you FAFSA. This is a fairly new process, anyone (including parents) who have an FAFSA PIN will need to apply for an FSA ID.
FTCHS COUNSELORS ARE AVAILABLE TO ASSIST YOU THROUGH THIS PROCESS
- FTCHS will host FAFSA completion events through the fall. Counselors will be available to help students and parents complete the forms. Our 1st event is on Back to School Night, 10/6. Our 2nd event is Thursday, 2/16.
The PA State Grant is overseen by the PHEAA organization.
- When you are completing the FAFSA, you will have the option to transfer your information to the state (PHEAA).
- In order for a student to be eligible for the state grant, thestudent & parent will need to verify certain information transmitted from FAFSA, print, sign and return the form.
- If you would like to learn more about filling out FAFSA, this brief video will walk you through the steps.
PRIMARY COMPONENTS OF FINANCIAL AID
- Federal Government
- Pell Grant (2015-16 maximum was $5,800 // based on financial need
- Direct Student Loans (2015-16 = $5,500; additional money can sometimes be added if a parent is unable to obtain a Parent Plus Loan)
- State Grant (2015-16 maximum was $4,011 // based on financial need & cost of attendance)
- Colleges – Financial Aid Packages will include the above plus, possibly…
- Some additional grants
- Merit scholarships from the college
- Remaining amounts can be covered through:
- Parent PLUS Loan – federal loan for parents that is credit & income based
- Savings or cash (most schools offer a 10 month payment plan)
- Private loans
- This brief video explains the types of aid available to students
ESTIMATING YOUR FEDERAL AID
Use the link below to estimate the amount of money a student is eligible for based on your most recent tax return.
This is the website you use to complete your FAFSA.
3) Official PHEAA website
PHEAA is the PA state financial aid organization. FAFSA will send PHEAA your application and you will be considered for state financial aid. Respond to all requests for information from PHEAA the deadline is 5/1.
4) Post-FAFSA Activities
You've completed the FAFSA, now what? You are not in the clear, there are several steps that you need to follow in order to make sure everything is completed properly. Read this document for a checklist of the activities that come next.