PHEAA Offers Guidance on Next Steps of the Financial Aid Application Process

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After submitting the FAFSA®, watch for your Student Aid Report & college acceptance/financial aid letters

Harrisburg, PA (March 28, 2017)—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 federal Student Aid Report (SAR), which provides schools with the information used to determine federal student aid eligibility for the 2017-18 academic year.

Whether applicants receive their SAR online or on paper depends on whether a valid email address was provided when completing the FAFSA. If a valid email address was provided, applicants will receive an email with instructions on how to access their SAR online. Otherwise, the SAR will be delivered by mail.

If you have an FSA ID and your FAFSA has been processed, you can log in at the FAFSA site to view SAR information regardless of whether you filed online or provided an email address.

"Maximizing the availability of student aid, especially gift aid, can help make a quality higher education affordable for Pennsylvania students and their families," said Representative Mike Peifer, PHEAA Board Chairman. “Carefully reviewing and understanding the Student Aid Report is an important step toward making smart choices that can help them steer clear of unnecessary and burdensome student loan debt." Included in 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 immediately 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, campus-based aid, work-study funds, and federal student loans.

"To help students make informed decisions about their higher education success plan, including how to compare college acceptance letters, PHEAA has developed many easy-to-use resources," said Senator Wayne Fontana, PHEAA Board Vice Chairman. "These include an array of online resources, including EducationPlanner.org and MySmartBorrowing.org, as well as 14 Access Partners who provide hands-on assistance in communities throughout the Commonwealth."

Students and families should 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. However, this may depend on the student’s total cost of attendance at each school being considered.

As soon as applicants decide which school they will be attending, each school that has offered acceptance should be notified promptly about the student's decision.

For more information on finding financial aid to fund postsecondary education, including tips, deadlines, and free financial aid workshops, join PHEAA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pheaa.aid or visit PHEAA.org. You can also view helpful financial aid planning videos at youtube.com/PHEAAStudentAid.