Students encouraged to apply for financial aid with simplified FAFSA

The Office of Student Aid at Penn State is reminding all students to apply for financial aid every year. Some types of aid, such as federal student and parent loans, are made available to all eligible students regardless of their income. Students can apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Web at http://www.fafsa.gov/ every year.

To receive maximum consideration for aid, the Office of Student Aid recommends that new students complete the 2010-11 FAFSA immediately and that current students complete the 2010-11 FAFSA by April 15. In addition to completing the 2010-11 FAFSA, students enrolled in 2010 summer sessions also must complete the 2009-10 FAFSA if they have not done so already.

When students complete their 2010-11 FAFSA, they may notice the financial aid application process is now simpler -- the U.S. Department of Education announced changes to the 2010-11 FAFSA that shorten the form by up to 22 questions, take advantage of skip-logic so that students only answer questions that are relevant to them and their families, and improve the user experience with a new “help and hints” section, among other improvements. Students who completed a 2009-10 FAFSA will find most of their personal information has been carried over to the 2010-11 FAFSA when they sign in using their Federal Student Aid PIN .

When completing the FAFSA on the Web, students need to enter Penn State’s Federal School Code, which is 003329, to transmit their FAFSA information electronically to the Office of Student Aid at University Park, where student aid is processed centrally for all Penn State campuses. Although it is best if students (and their parents or spouse, if applicable) fill out the 2009 income tax return(s) before completing the FAFSA, students can estimate their income information in order to meet Penn State’s recommended FAFSA submission date and then update the FAFSA later.

“By completing the FAFSA, students will be considered automatically for the scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans they are eligible to receive,” said Anna Griswold, assistant vice president for undergraduate education and executive director of student aid. “Each year, more than 68,500 undergraduate, graduate, law and medical students at Penn State receive financial aid. While most of these students take advantage of loans to pay for their education, some students also seek out additional sources of funding, such as private scholarships -- a type of ‘gift-aid’ that does not need to be repaid.”

In addition to completing the FAFSA, some academic colleges at the University require students to complete a separate scholarship application. Students and their families can download the scholarships brochure for more information.

Once the FAFSAs are sent to the Office of Student Aid, the staff will review the information and determine students’ aid eligibility. If students or their families have experienced a loss of employment that has affected their financial situation but is not reflected on the FAFSA, they should notify the Office of Student Aid by calling 814-865-6301 after they have been unemployed for at least 10 weeks, have submitted the FAFSA and have received their aid award for 2010-11. In some cases, the Office of Student Aid may be able to take unemployment into account and adjust a student’s aid eligibility.

After students’ aid eligibility is determined, the Office of Student Aid will create financial aid award packages. In mid-to-late March, the Office of Student Aid staff will e-mail new students a financial aid award notification for 2010-11. Current students will receive their 2010-11 award notifications by e-mail in mid-to-late June. Students will then be able to review their aid eligibility online by selecting the “Student Aid Summary” option on eLion. For more information about applying for aid, visit the Office of Student Aid Web site at http://www.psu.edu/studentaid/ online.

Last Updated September 16, 2010