Financial Aid

The information below has been provided to help students and parents navigate Financial Aid. If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to reach out to your counselor. For school specific Financial Aid questions, it is best to contact that Financial Aid department at the individual school. Additional resources about Financial Aid are available on The Department of Education Federal Student Aid website.

The cost of an education is considered to be one of the most important aspects when determining your Post-Secondary plans. It is a reality that students are unlikely to pay for college on their own. The intention of the Financial Aid process is to help make college affordable for students. Financial Aid is a vital part of the college going or post-secondary process. Funds are provided by either the federal government, the state in which the student lives, the college/school the student plans to attend, and other public or private institutions. Financial Aid can be categorized as:

  • need-based which is determined by the family's ability to help the student pay for college

  • merit-based which is awarded in recognition of academic achievement, sports, talents or special skills

It is important to note that some forms of Financial Aid may need to be repaid as indicated in the financial aid "package" or letter. You will also find that each school/college may present their Financial Aid "packages" differently.

In order to be considered for Financial Aid, you need to complete the FAFSA.

START HERE: The Financial Aid process starts with filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

  • The FAFSA application opens on OCTOBER 1
  • Students and parents may fill out the FAFSA at the same time they are filling out college admission applications (you do not have to be accepted to a school in order to send your FAFSA application to that school)
  • Remember, this is for FEDERAL AID. You can learn more about how to apply for the Pennsylvania State Grant Program (PHEAA) below.
  • Students and Parents can use the FAFSA4Caster to estimate the amount of money a student is eligible for based on your most recent tax return

To start the FAFSA, students and parents much create a FSA ID, which is considered to be your electronic signature during this process. The FSA IDs of the student and parent must be verified before it is considered to be active. Please visit create your FSA ID to complete. Remember: A separate FSA ID must be created and verified by both the student and the parent.

To fill out the FAFSA, please visit: Click Here to Start FAFSA


  • The FAFSA application opens 10/1 for the next school year (ex: if you are graduating in 2023 and plan to attend college in the Fall of 2023, you will need to file a FAFSA for the 2023-2024 school year)

  • You will need to provide student and parent information (unless you fall under FAFSA appointed independent guidelines)

  • Financial information will be extracted from the prior-prior year tax form (ex: for 2023 Graduates, who plan to attend college in the Fall of 2023, you will need to use 2021 tax information)

  • If there has been a significant change in tax information from what you are reporting on the FAFSA and now, please contact the school/college Financial Aid Office for more information

  • If no tax forms were filed for the tax year, parents will need to provide alternate income information - SSA, TANF, etc.

  • After the FAFSA is complete you will receive confirmation and it will be processed in 3-5 business days.

  • Free FAFSA Assistance: Starting in November, students can elect to receive free, personalized FAFSA assistance via text message. They can take advantage of these opportunities by registering for the scholarships program and opting into FAFSA assistance on the My Action Plan page.

NEXT STEP: The next step in the Financial Aid process is to apply to the Pennsylvania State Grant Program or PHEAA. Pennsylvania State Grants are provided through PHEAA and are based on financial need. Once the FAFSA is complete, on the confirmation page students can choose to "transfer my information to the PA State Grant Program". Students can also visit Pennsylvania State Grant Program and create an account to fill out the Pennsylvania State Grant Application. In order for the application to be complete, the students and parents must print-out, sign and mail-in the completed application to the Harrisburg address listed at the top of the printed page.

After these steps are completed, the Financial Aid information will be sent to the schools that you indicated on your FAFSA and PHEAA application. The Financial Aid Office at each school will then process your information. This may take a few weeks. In order to determine how much need based and merit aid you qualify for a Financial Aid "Package" will be sent out to the student. You may need to provide more information, such as a CSS PROFILE OR income verification so please be sure to check your email or college/school portal account.

Account Access - PHEAA's Student Portal
Students can complete the PA State Grant Form (SGF) and update their State Grant record through Account Access at New users will need to create a username and password prior to completing the SGF and making corrections to their State Grant record. Once they are logged into their individual account, they can complete their SGF and update their State Grant Record with their choice of school.
Students may also use Account Access to update information related to enrollment, program of study, and housing plans. Information regarding the student's State Grant eligibility is also available.

When you receive your Financial Aid Package or Letter, you will find that 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.

Need help deciphering your financial aid letter? Check out this resource: Evaluate your Financial Aid letter.pdf

Helpful Resources

 Official FAFSA website
This is the website you use to complete your FAFSA.

 Obtain an FSA ID for your FAFSA
Before filing the FAFSA online both the student and a parent must obtain an FSA ID.

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.

Students and Parents can use this tool to estimate the amount of money a student is eligible for based on your most recent tax return

 After the FAFSA
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.

For an overview of all information about Financial Aid

Types of Aid
Research the different types of aid available including private vs federal loans


Need help applying to financial aid? Want to save time looking for scholarships that you might win? Need help writing scholarship essays? Get help from a NextGenVest Money Mentor (a trained college student) who can find you scholarships you are a great fit for, edit scholarship essays, help you fill out the FAFSA, and help you understand your financial aid award letter. You can get help from them on nights and weekends, sign up below!

How to Get Help and Sign Up:

STEP 1: Go to

STEP 2: Click the blue button "Sign up"

STEP 3: Enter your free school code towne1c (not case sensitive)

STEP 4: You will receive an automated text message and you will need to respond with your high school graduation year

STEP 5: Once you are matched, ask your Money Mentor: "can you help me find scholarships?"

STEP 6: Save the phone number as "Money Mentor" in your phone! You will be able to get their help in college too!

Financial Aid

FSA ID: Frequently Asked Questions
This link will take you to FAQs about the FSA ID and the change from PIN to FSA ID.

FTCHS Guidance: Financial Aid Award Letters
Helps you understand and compare college financial aid award letters
This link will help you navigate your financial aid package

Student Loan Statistics by State