Student discussion at lab

Financial FAQs

Get answers to common financial questions.

The Application Process

How do I apply for financial aid?

You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for a:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Federal Nursing Loan
  • Federal Stafford Loan
  • PHEAA State Grant

What are the deadlines for financial aid applications?

March 15 is the recommended deadline for full consideration of most financial aid programs. By meeting the March 15 deadline, you will also meet the deadline of May 1 for the PHEAA State Grant.

When will I receive information regarding the action taken on my applications?

Award Letter notifications will be sent via U.S. mail for incoming students and electronically to returning students, approximately at the end of June.

  • Federal Pell Grants: Students will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) via email when they submit the FAFSA electronically. Please refer to the SAR for an initial indication of eligibility for a Pell Grant. This eligibility indicates the maximum amount possible to be awarded, and it is subject to change based on the student’s enrollment and other factors.
  • PA State Grants: These awards are announced in mid-May by PHEAA in the form of a status notice mailed to the student by PHEAA.
  • Federal Direct Stafford Loans: The student’s maximum eligibility will be indicated on the student’s award letter. The amount is based on grade level, dependency and total aggregate loan limits.
  • Federal SEOG: If the student is eligible, these awards will appear on the student’s financial aid award letter.


Why do I have to put my parents' tax information on the FAFSA if they’re not paying for school?

The federal government expects both the parents and the student to contribute to the student’s educational cost. Regardless of whether parents will or will not contribute to your education, their income and assets must be reported and be used to determine your financial aid. Even if you do not live with your parents, if you are considered dependent by the federal government, you are required to provide parental information.

The FAFSA has questions to determine if you are dependent or independent. Refer to FAFSA instructions regarding parental information

What if my taxes haven’t been filed, but I want to submit my FAFSA to meet the recommended deadline?

You can file your FAFSA with estimates, using your tax information from the previous year. You will also indicate “will file” as your filing status. You must update the information once your tax information is available.

Why do I need a federal PIN to apply for FAFSA online?

You need a personal identification number (PIN) to apply for your FAFSA online using an electronic signature. The online application assists you in filling out the information correctly and helps minimize mistakes. It also allows you to access your application to make updates to your FAFSA online using your PIN. You also need to use your PIN to electronically sign your Master Promissory Note for the federal Stafford Loan online.

I was selected for verification. What does that mean?

One out of every three students who fill out the FAFSA is selected for verification by the federal government. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education requires that 30 of all students who apply for financial aid must be verified.

Verification ensures that the information reported on the FAFSA is accurate. Some applications are selected because of inconsistent information, while others are randomly selected. Any student who is selected will be notified by the Office of Financial Aid.

The Office of Financial Aid will compare the information on the tax returns to the FAFSA and correct any errors. Any corrections made will generate a new Student Aid Report (SAR). After the verification process is complete, the student will be notified of financial aid eligibility.

This process typically takes 4 to 6 weeks, so please hand in documents promptly to ensure your aid is disbursed on time.

Failure to complete the verification process will prohibit you from receiving any federal financial aid for the academic year.

Who do I contact for more FAFSA information?

For eligibility information and questions regarding your FAFSA status, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (800-433-3243).

Student and Parent Loans

My parents know they will be denied a Parent PLUS Loan. Should they still apply?

Yes. If a parent is denied a Parent PLUS Loan, the student will be eligible to receive an additional $4,000 in a Direct Unsubsidized Loan from the U.S. Department of Education.

Parents can complete the Parent PLUS Loan application through An electronic copy will automatically be sent to the Office of Financial Aid so that funds can be applied to the student’s account.

What is the difference between a Subsidized Stafford Loan and an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan?

Stafford Loans are also known as Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. The school determines the amount the student is eligible for. You must have financial need in order to receive a Direct Subsidized Loan.

A Direct Subsidized Loan means that the government subsidizes the interest while you are in school. Interest will start to accrue after graduation.

A Direct Unsubsidized Loan means that you do not have financial need. Therefore, the federal government requires that you start paying the interest on your loan as soon as it is disbursed. If you don’t, the interest will accumulate and be added to the amount you have to pay back (the principle) when you start paying your loans.

If you have a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, it’s recommended you pay the interest while you are in school to avoid larger payments when you begin repayment. You will receive an interest statement every three months whether you elect to pay the interest now, or have it added to the principle.

How do I reduce the amount of my Stafford Loan or cancel the entire loan?

Prior to disbursement, students may cancel all or a portion of the loan. Please visit the student portal to accept or deny the loan. You may also contact the Office of Financial Aid directly.

After disbursement, students may cancel all or a portion of the loan within 14 days after the date the school has sent notification that the loan funds have been credited to the student’s account. Parents may also cancel Parent PLUS Loans by completing the loan request form from the student portal. Contact the Office of Financial Aid to cancel or reduce the loan.

What is a Direct PLUS Loan for parents?

Direct Parent PLUS Loans are unsubsidized loans available to parents of dependent students to help pay for educational expenses, up to the cost of attendance, minus all other financial assistance. Interest is charged during all periods. Parents completing a PLUS eMPN or Direct PLUS Loan Application for Parents must use their own PIN, and not their child’s PIN.

What is a master promissory note (MPN)?

The MPN is a promissory note that can be used to make one or more loans for one or more academic years (up to 10 years). There are two types of MPNs in the Direct Loan Program: one for Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans and one for Direct Parent PLUS Loans.

If you are an undergraduate student borrower, a graduate or a professional attending a school that is authorized and choose to make multiple loans under the same MPN for more than one academic year, you may be required to sign only one MPN for all of your Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. If you enroll in college as a freshman and borrow under the Direct Loan Program for all years of study, you may be able to borrow under this one MPN for all academic years.

If you are a parent borrower whose child is attending a school that is authorized and choose to make multiple loans under the same MPN for more than one academic year, you may be required to sign only one MPN for all of your Direct Parent PLUS Loans. You may be able to borrow under this one MPN for all academic years of that child’s undergraduate study. Note: Parents must sign an MPN for each child for whom they are borrowing.

What is direct loan entrance counseling and do I need to complete it?

Direct Loan Entrance Counseling is a session that explains the obligations you agree to meet as a condition of receiving a Direct Loan.

If you are a student and have not previously received a Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loan or PLUS Loan (graduate students only) under the Direct Loan Program or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, you must complete loan counseling for that loan type before receiving a loan. This counseling ensures that you understand your responsibilities and obligations. Note: The FFEL Program ended July 1, 2010 and no new loans have been made under the FFEL Program after that date.

Who do I contact about loan repayment, deferment or forbearance?

Contact your loan servicer:

Direct Loan Servicing Center

FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA)

Great Lakes Educational Loan Services



PHEAA Grant Division

Federal Pell Grant
1-800-433-3243 or 319-337-3738

AES/PHEAA (formerly Student Loan Servicing Center)

Student Service Center at PA College

Other Financial Aid

Will the college extend credit to me until my aid is received?

For those individuals who have been officially approved for financial aid, the College will extend credit, which will appear on the billing statement as deductions. This information is always subject to change based on student enrollment level and other factors.

How do I pay for books?

Obtaining and paying for books is the responsibility of the student. It is possible to use financial aid to help cover the cost of the books. If your financial aid is more than your tuition bill, you will receive a refund check, which may be used to help cover your book cost.

However, you may not receive money back until one month after the start of the semester (if you are expecting any). We recommend you save money the summer prior to college to pay for books for your first semester. It is best to plan to pay for your books up front and then possibly be reimbursed later with your financial aid.

I received my award letter and I still need more money. What can I do?

Dependent students can have a parent apply for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan, or they can look into an Alternative or Private Education Loan. Students can also sign up for a payment plan through Higher One.

The Direct Parent PLUS Loan is a student loan in the parent’s name. Approved parents can borrow any amount up to the student’s budget at a 7.9 percent fixed interest rate, and the loan can be deferred while the student is in school. If either parent is denied a PLUS Loan, the student can receive an additional $4,000 in an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan (or Direct Unsubsidized Loan) for the year.

Alternative Education Loans may or may not require a cosigner. The Alternative Loans have a variable interest rate based off of the borrower’s credit score and other factors.

Independent students can look into an Alternative or Private Education Loan. These students can also sign up for a payment plan through Higher One.

If I withdraw from a class, will it affect my financial aid?

Yes, depending on the date you withdraw, your financial aid may be affected. Please contact Student Service Center to inquire how your aid may change.

If I repeat a course, will it affect my financial aid?

If you repeat a course you have previously earned a passing grade in (passing for financial aid purposes includes A, B, C or D), it may affect your future financial aid awards. Please contact Student Service Center to inquire how your aid may change.

Still have questions? Call the Student Service Center at (717)-947-6004 or email