PHEAA Offers Guidance on Next Steps of the Financial Aid Process

Main Content

Submitting the FAFSA® is not the end of college financial planning

Harrisburg, PA (April 12, 2011)—The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is encouraging students and their families who have submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to carefully review their Student Aid Report (SAR), which will outline their federal student aid eligibility for the 2011-12 academic year.

Submitting the FAFSA has never been more important for families who are struggling to pay for a higher education. "Anyone who does not take the time to submit a FAFSA will needlessly forgo eligibility for a variety of student aid programs, including federal student loans and the Pell Grant," said Representative William Adolph, PHEAA Board Chairman. "PHEAA's outreach staff works closely with Pennsylvania students and families to help ensure that the entire process, from filing the FAFSA to understanding their Student Aid Report, is as easy as it is valuable."

If the FAFSA was submitted online, the SAR will be delivered electronically in about three to five days. Families who submit a paper FAFSA should receive their SAR in three to four weeks. Included on the SAR is the family's Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount that the federal government determines a family can be expected to contribute toward their total cost of attendance. Families should review the information on the SAR for accuracy and submit any corrections promptly.

The information from the SAR is shared with the schools that the student listed on the FAFSA. If a student is accepted at more than one school, each school's financial aid office will use the information from the student's SAR to determine the student's eligibility for financial aid, including federal and state grants, institutional awards, work-study funds and federal student loans. The family will need to carefully compare each school's financial aid package to determine which offer best meets their individual needs. Typically, aid packages that include more gift aid, such as grants and scholarships, are preferable to packages that include more loans, which must be repaid. Once the family decides which school the student will be attending, each school that has offered acceptance should be notified promptly about the student's decision.

"In keeping with our public service mission, PHEAA has assembled many resources that can help families with every step of the student aid planning and application process," said Senator Wayne Fontana, PHEAA Board Vice Chairman. "These include a variety of online resources, such as PHEAA.org, as well as our outreach staff who work exclusively in the field alongside our secondary and postsecondary school partners."

For more information on higher education funding options, schedules for upcoming financial aid and FAFSA completion events, reminders of financial aid deadlines, and video clips offering tips on planning for higher education, students can "Like" PHEAA's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pheaa.aid, search for our video tutorials on YouTube.com or visit PHEAA.org.