The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is reminding students and families that the 2011-12 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available online at PHEAA.org/FAFSA or fafsa.ed.gov.
Completing the FAFSA online helps eliminate errors and offers a quicker processing time. Since most families complete their FAFSA online, the federal government will no longer provide paper FAFSAs. Families have the choice of completing and submitting the form electronically or printing the form and sending it to the U.S. Department of Education via traditional mail.
To submit the form electronically, the student and a parent must request a PIN (personal identification number) at pin.ed.gov. They should receive their PIN in about 3 days via email. The PIN acts as their electronic signatures.
The FAFSA determines eligibility for federal grants, the need-based Pennsylvania State Grant, many scholarships, reduced-cost federal student loans, work-study programs, and many school-based student aid programs.
In addition to the FAFSA, first time applicants for a Pennsylvania State Grant are required to submit a State Grant Form (SGF) which contains data elements not included on the FAFSA. Beginning in late January, students will be able to link directly to the SGF from the FAFSA on the Web, providing applicants a "one-stop-shop" for both federal and state aid.
The Pennsylvania State Grant deadline is May 1 for all renewal applicants and first-time applicants in degree and transfer programs but it is recommended that families not wait to complete and submit their FAFSA. Estimated federal income tax information can be used if the family's actual tax form hasn't been completed yet.
Help is available for families who have questions or may be having difficulty completing the FAFSA. Frequently asked questions, overviews, as well as links to preparation worksheets as well as the online application, are located at PHEAA.org/FAFSA.
For the latest financial aid information, upcoming deadlines and free financial aid workshops join PHEAA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pheaa.aid.