It will soon be time to complete your 2012-13 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA.) The FAFSA is the only application for financial aid required by Penn State. It is the application for federal, state and University aid, so it is strongly recommended that you file your FAFSA. The preferred filing deadline is April 15 for continuing students. The application is available on the web beginning January 1, 2012, at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
To prepare for filing your FAFSA, you will need your Federal PIN number. The PIN number is what students and parents use to electronically sign the FAFSA and any other federal financial aid document. If you do not have a PIN number or cannot recall your PIN, please visit www.pin.ed.gov to sign up or have a duplicate sent to you.
The next step in getting ready for the FAFSA is to gather student and parent tax information in order to complete your FAFSA. If you are completing your FAFSA before your 2012 taxes are finished, you can estimate the information, but you will be required to go back and enter the actual information once it is received.
Be mindful of the accuracy of the information that you enter on the FAFSA. Be sure to use the student’s full legal name when completing the FAFSA, just as it appears on the social security card. For example, Frederick is not Freddy on the FAFSA! Double check the social security number and date of birth entered for students and parents. Follow the directions on the FAFSA and look at the exact line items requested from the tax return to ensure you are entering the information being requested.
Some FAFSA applications are selected for a verification process. You will be notified by the Penn State Office of Student Aid if you have been selected and what information you are required to provide. Being selected does not mean you did something wrong. Verification is used to ensure that Penn State is administering the Federal Aid programs accurately and fairly. Not providing the documentation in a timely manner (within thirty days of the first request) will prevent the disbursement of the student’s financial aid to the bursar account thus creating a balance payable by the student. Please bring all verification documents to the Student Aid office for review. We are happy to make sure you have everything you need and will fax the documents directly to the Office of Student Aid for you!
Don’t worry if you need help filing the FAFSA! We are here to help you. Starting in January 2012, the Student Aid Office at Penn State York will be holding information sessions both on line and on campus to help students and families understand and complete the FAFSA. Check the campus calendar at www.yk.psu.edu frequently for dates and times of upcoming sessions.
Now is also time to start searching for scholarships for the 2012-13 financial aid year. A little legwork can go a long way in getting some free money. Remember that loans are money that must be paid back, while scholarships and grants do not need to be paid back. Scholarship searching is a continuous process because many scholarships come with applications and deadlines throughout the year that must be met.
The first place for students at Penn State York to look for a scholarship is on our website, www.yk.psu.edu. We have a list of internal and outside scholarships that has recently been updated. We continuously update our scholarship book on line as new scholarships come in, so check back often! New scholarship opportunities are also posted on the financial aid bulletin board located outside of the game room in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center.
Other places that students can search for scholarships are through local businesses that are related to the student’s major or career field. Some businesses sponsor students who plan on entering the same profession. Students can also check with local community organizations or the local Chamber of Commerce to see if there are any sponsorships for specific professions. Churches, synagogue and other religious organizations are also a great scholarship source. Employers may have scholarships available to employees or dependents of employees, so check with your Human Resources office. Every dollar of free money is one less that needs to be borrowed.
Students do not have to get straight A’s to win scholarships. Not every scholarship considers academics as the primary criteria of the scholarship. Students do not necessarily have to have high financial need, or be a high school senior. Each scholarship that a student applies for increases their chance of winning. The scholarship applications should get easier as the season goes on and the student gets more experienced in completing them. Most scholarship essay questions are similar, so the student can reuse and adapt from previous application essays to match the new ones. Even for the students with the best grades, winning a scholarship involves some work and a little luck.
Searching for student aid and scholarships is an interactive process that requires participation by the student as well as the University. We understand it can be confusing and encourage students to come to the office to ask questions or for help completing forms. We also offer workshops, but the student is ultimately accountable for their own financial aid. Students must take responsibility for their financial aid package, and ask for help from the student aid office at Penn State York!
For information about financial aid please contact Jessica Petrie at 717-771-4045 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.