Financial Aid & Scholarship Information
PENNSYLVANIA’S GUIDE TO STUDENT AID:
The Guide can be found at www.PHEAA.org. It is a great source for federal and state grants and loans. It contains information on college planning timelines, student aid options, the student aid package, etc. The Guide is available online or as a hard copy in the Counseling Center.
Essentially, there are five options for financial assistance for postsecondary education, each differing in terms of repayment and eligibility:
- Grants. Grants do not have to be repaid. Many are based on financial need.
- Scholarships. Scholarships do not have to be repaid. They can be awarded based on financial need, academic merit, or athletic merit.
- Loans. Loans are a form of aid that must be repaid with interest after leaving school. The most common of these are the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and PLUS Loans, although private and alternative loans are also available.
- Work-Study. Based on financial need, work-study programs provide employment opportunities to students both on and off campus.
- Military Funding. Several military branches offer substantial financial aid packages in exchange for varying terms of service.
For more information on how to apply for financial aid, visit the PHEAA Website at www.pheaa.org.
NET PRICE CALCULATOR
Net price is the difference between the “sticker” price (full cost) to attend a specific college, minus any grants and scholarships for which students may be eligible. Sticker price includes direct charges (tuition and fees, room and board) and indirect costs (books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses).
FAFSA FOR CLASS OF 2019
The official website for information on the FAFSA is www.fafsa.gov
If you plan to attend college from July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020, you can submit the FAFSA from October 1, 2018-June 30, 2020 using tax information from 2017. The process will enable students to file their FAFSA earlier, with more accurate information (no need to estimate taxes anymore). Students will be able to receive earlier notification of their financial aid eligibility and, hopefully, make better decisions regarding the affordability of their final school choice.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the most important form you must complete to qualify for almost all types of financial aid. Dependent students will need their parents’ information to complete the FAFSA. The FAFSA is available on October 1st for current seniors planning to go to college next year. Many state, local and private entities use the FAFSA information to determine eligibility for grants and scholarships and have different deadlines. FAFSA applications cannot be submitted before October 1st, but the sooner you get it in, the better, even if you have not filed your income tax return. The deadlines for your state or schools may be different from the federal deadlines and you may be required to complete additional forms. First time applicants should be careful of the deadlines for all financial aid forms set by the colleges you have applied to- they may be as early as December 1st. And don’t forget to complete the PA State Grant Application at the end of the FAFSA!
FSA (Federal Student Aid) ID
Students and parents may apply for a FSA ID at any time. Your FSA ID is used each year to electronically apply for federal student aid and to access your Federal Student Aid records online. Your FSA ID serves as your electronic signature and provides access to your personal records.
A Step-by-Step tutorial can be found at www.edvisors.com under “FAFSA Facts” 2019-2020 Tutorial: The FAFSA in 7 Easy Steps.
Check out how much financial aid you may qualify for before filing the FAFSA. You do not have to be a high school senior to use FAFSA4caster; in fact, the tool is recommended for juniors, and even as early as middle school. Parents and students can use the tool to receive early estimates, create scenarios based on future earnings, and then establish college funding strategies.
The CSS PROFILE is required by many private colleges and universities to determine your eligibility for non-government financial aid, such as the institution's own grants, loans and scholarships. The PROFILE may be completed during fall of senior year. There is a fee to file the CSS Profile.
FINANCIAL LITERACY & SEARCHING FOR SCHOLARSHIPS
Seniors and juniors are strongly encouraged to sign up NOW for scholarship search engines. It is never too early to educate yourself and to start looking for ways to pay for college. Some sources:
www.pheaa.org (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency)
www.hsf.net (Hispanic Scholarship Fund)
App- scholly: Download this app for $2.99
HOW TO GOOGLE FOR COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS
There are tons of websites you can use to look for college scholarships, but one of the most powerful online tools for finding college scholarships is Google.
Step 1. Choose search terms wisely. You can start a Google search for scholarships by simply typing in college scholarships. This may come up with too many results for you to look through, so narrow your search by adding in additional terms such as your intended college major (e.g., biology scholarships, engineering scholarships), your college’s name, or the name of organizations you’re involved with (e.g., Key Club, 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts).
Step 2. Narrow your search with “and” or quotation marks. Once you determine the best general search terms to use (see Step 1), you can narrow results even further by adding the word “and,” as well as quotation marks in your search (e.g., biology and “college scholarships”). When you use quotation marks, Google will return results that exactly match the terms within the quotation marks. Using the word “and” tells Google you want it to find pages with all the terms you’ve typed in, not just some of them. This should help you get more relevant search results.
Step 3. Narrow further by location. Many local organizations in your community may offer college scholarships. Try adding in your city, state, or county (e.g., business college scholarships in California) to find local scholarships in your area.
Step 4. Search a specific website using Google.Many professional organizations in your field of study and nonprofit organizations in your community may also offer scholarships. If you find their website, but can’t find scholarship information on it, try searching the site using Google. Simply type site:and then the website’s URL, along with the word scholarship (e.g., for marketing scholarships, you might search site:www.ama.org scholarships).
UHS 2016-2017 LOCAL SCHOLARSHIPS:
All scholarship information (local and national) that we receive is put into Naviance and updated regularly. Go to your Family Connection page on Naviance and click on the colleges tab. For LOCAL SCHOLARSHIPS, click on SCHOLARSHIPS AND MONEY, click onSCHOLARSHIP LIST, go to BROWSE BY CATEGORY, choose LOCAL and hit GO. Print a copy of the application or pick up a paper copy in the Counseling Center.
COUNSELORS NEED UP TO TEN SCHOOL DAYS TO PROCESS SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS
THE 4 RULES OF PAYING FOR COLLEGE IN A RECESSION
1. Grades matter more than ever. The better the student, the more college options the student will have and the more likely it is the student will receive scholarships or win admission to a low-cost school. The better the grades and test scores, the bigger the scholarship. Spend a few extra hours studying, bring your grade point average up a point or two, and it could pay off in tens of thousands of dollars.
2. Early birds will get more scholarship worms. Next fall's high school seniors need to start applying for scholarships AND admission to low-cost schools in the early autumn-before November 30. And they need to fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible each October, because some aid is handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.
3. Students should apply to at least a couple of affordable schools. Anyone who applies just to one "dream" school should prepare for heartbreak. Which schools are affordable? Your area community college is always a good bet. And an in-state public college or university is usually comparatively affordable. Some private colleges are also comparatively affordable.
4. Students should apply to at least a couple of generous schools. Some of the most expensive schools by sticker price also give out huge scholarships and can actually be cheaper, in the long run, than public schools for many students. Students from low- and middle-income families can focus on schools that award aid based on the family's income. A number of schools claim to meet the full financial need of students.
TIPS FOR FINDING SCHOLARSHIPS
Your College or University's Financial Aid Office. Call them! Many offer access to computer databases, have a collection of books with sources, and will have a bulletin board with posted notices of scholarships. But you are in competition with every other student in the school for those same funds. While the Financial Aid Office is a MUST to check for assistance, do not expect them to hold your hand. The burden is on YOU to find the funding.
On the other hand, once your financial aid office has offered you a "financial aid package," don't hesitate to question it. Think they overestimated your family's income? Think they are offering you too little? Ask, and negotiate with them. Remember... MOST financial aid packages are going to be VERY heavy on loans. Do what you can to get them to offer you more "free" money and fewer loans!
Start Locally! You are going to have the greatest success finding scholarships by starting with your parents, your employers, and your local organizations. You also increase your odds of actually winning a scholarship by hitting your local organizations first. You may only be going up against a few other local students, versus the entire student population of the country.
Employers. Have your parents ask their personnel administrator if their company offers any sort of financial aid, tuition reimbursement, or scholarships, for employee's children. Many major companies do offer this benefit. If you have a job, ask your own company if they offer this sort of benefit.
Volunteer work. Have you done any volunteer work? Perhaps at your local hospital? Do you help out at the food bank? Are you involved with the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts? All are excellent sources.
Organizations. What professional or social organizations are you or your parents involved with? 4H, JayCees, Lions Club? You name it. If you or your parents are a member of an organization, ask them and see if they offer any kind of scholarships. If you are NOT a member of any organizations, the next thing to check with is organizations that represent what you are planning on studying. Many such organizations offer scholarships to students who are studying what they support, even if you are not a member. For example, the American Medical Record Association offers several scholarships for those planning on making a career in Medical Record Administration, but there is no requirement you be a member. Many organizations that do permit non-members to apply for scholarships, however, do expect you to join the organization after receiving the scholarship.
Unions. Are you or your parents a member of a Union? All the major labor unions offer scholarships for members and their dependent children (AFLCIO, Teamsters, etc.).
Church. Check with your church. Your local parish may or may not have any scholarships for their members, but the Diocese or headquarters may have some available. And if you have been very active in your local church, they may be able to help you in other ways.
Chamber of Commerce. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce. Many offer grants to students in the community, especially those planning on careers in business and public service. Even if they do not offer any themselves, you can usually get a listing of members, and many of them may offer small scholarships to local students.
High school. Check with your High School School Counselors, Principal, Teachers, and other administrators. Many high schools have scholarships specifically for their own students.
Take the PSAT! While you are in high school, you will be offered the opportunity to take the PSAT test in your junior year. I strongly suggest you take this test!! Not only does it help you prepare yourself for the SAT later on, many National Merit Scholarship Programs are determined by the scores you receive on the PSAT test. Some private scholarship programs require you to take the PSAT.
The Chairperson or Head of the Department at your school. This is an often overlooked area to find scholarship information. Once you are in school, check with the head of the department you are studying in. They may have information available on scholarships and grants, possibly even internship opportunities that the financial aid office does not have.
The Library. Another really obvious source! Ask the librarian to help you research sources of scholarships. The librarian at my local library gave me probably the very best suggestion I ever had when I was looking for scholarships. (Check out the Exton branch of the Chester County Library System)
Directory of Associations: Society of Engineers, American Marketing Assn This book which I cannot remember the name of, listed every kind of non-profit and professional organization in America and suggested I write to all the organizations that had something to do with my field of study (which is computer programming). I mailed out requests for information to 37 organizations, received 32 responses and eventually, received a $250 grant from one of them.
Newspapers. Read your local newspaper every day. Especially during the summer, watch for announcements of local students receiving scholarships. Find out where you can apply for the next year for that same scholarship. Watch also for actual announcements of local firms and organizations offering scholarships.
The Web. But be prepared to spend A LOT of time! Hit the major search engines, and run searches on scholarships, financial aid, organizations, colleges, universities, grants, anything you can think of.Interests, hobbies, ethnicity, field of study, illnesses of student or family member, college majors.