News for Parents
The Flood of FAFSAs
Every spring the Financial Aid Office is inundated with FAFSAs! We receive more than 8,000 FAFSAs in a typical academic year, and we also review a few thousand updates to original FAFSAs. About 1 out of 3 FAFSA applicants are chosen by the U.S. Department of Education for a process termed Federal Verification which is an extensive review of key FAFSA items for each applicant. In recent weeks, we have received hundreds of verification forms and other documents needed for verification and we are working hard to 'stay afloat.' For those students and parents waiting for us to finish the verification process, we thank you very much for your patience and understanding. We also recommend you return any inquiries we make via phone, e-mail, or U.S. mail as quickly as possible.
If your student needs additional funding to cover educational expenses, please check our loans page for information on the Federal Direct Parent PLUS and Private Alternative loans. Parents and students can begin applying for the Parent PLUS and Private Alternative loans after June 1.
The Penn College scholarship awarding has begun and will continue over the next several months. If your student is selected for a scholarship, the award notification will be sent to the e-mail address included on his/her scholarship application. If your student did not complete the 2012-13 online scholarship application, the application will reopen in August and remain open until October. A reminder will be added to the Penn College portal site and an e-mail notification will be sent to all students in August.
PHEAA (PA State) Grant for Eligible PA Residents
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has made its conditional (tentative) PHEAA (PA State) Grant awards for the 2012-13 academic year. Awards are not final until after (1) the PA state budget is final and (2) the fall semester beguns (spring semester for spring awards). PHEAA mandates the responsibility to monitor its various policies to college financial aid offices. PHEAA policies that most often impact students are:
- Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
- Maximum Gift Aid
- Developmental Credits
- Distance Education
PHEAA SAP is not a factor for first-time students or for returning students who never previously received a PHEAA Grant. SAP does apply for students who had a PHEAA award during the 2011-12 academic year or before. They must have earned 12 or more unique credits for every full-time award and 6 or more unique credits for every part-time award. In some cases, developmental credits earned cannot be considered toward PHEAA SAP.
Due to the large number of students whose PHEAA SAP needs to be reviewed, it will take the Financial Aid Office a few weeks to review every student's SAP. The 2012-13 awards for these students will be in a 'Hold' status until the review is completed. After review:
- Students who attained PHEAA SAP will have the 'Hold' removed unless there is a second reason for a “Hold.”
- Students who did not attain PHEAA SAP will have their fall 2012 semester awards removed.
- Students enrolled in enough summer credits may be able to regain SAP by the start of fall semester.
Students whose most recent PHEAA Grants were awarded while attending another college will need to request (if not already done so) that official transcripts from the prior college be promptly sent to Penn College so that the Financial Aid Office can review for PHEAA SAP.
SIS & Financial Aid
Students can track the status of their financial aid and estimate their cost of attendance quickly by using the Student Information System (SIS).
To access financial aid information, they follow these steps:
- Browse to SIS and then log in
- Click on ‘Financial Information’
- Click on ‘View Financial Aid Information’ and read any relevant messages
- Select the 2012-13 academic year and click on ‘Continue’ to access their 'Financial Aid Award Summary'
The Financial Aid Summary Page provides the following information:
- 'Received' or 'Not Received'
- 'Complete' or 'Incomplete'
- Federal Verification
- ‘Verification Required,’ ‘Verification Received,’ ‘Verification Processing,’ or 'Verification Complete'
- Direct Stafford Loan and Private Loan Status
- 'Received' or 'Not Received'
- Direct Parent PLUS Loan
- Credit check: 'Approved,' 'Denied,' or 'Not Received'
- Master Promissory Note (MPN): 'Received' or 'Not Received'
- Grants, loans, scholarships, and veterans benefits award amounts (once they have been awarded)
- Click on 'Grants' and then 'PHEAA (PA State Grant)' to learn if and why a PHEAA Grant is on a 'Hold' status
- Estimated Cost of Attendance
Encourage your sstudent to always check SIS before contacting the Financial Aid Office. You can also have your student give you access to SIS so you can check financial aid stutus yourself.
Tips for Contacting Financial Aid
The Financial Aid office protects student’s confidentiality. Students must provide their full name and Penn College ID number when asking questions about their specific financial aid information. Parents whose information is on their dependent student’s FAFSA are welcome to ask questions about their student’s aid.
- If you contact our office by phone or in person, please have your student’s ID number ready.
- If you contact us via e-mail, please provide your student’s full name and ID number. Please do NOT provide your student’s social security number via e-mail.
The volume of phone calls we receive and the number of individuals coming into the office to discuss financial aid issues and questions increases significantly during the summer months. Therefore, you may experience longer hold times when calling our office. To assist both you and your student, our office suggests the following:
- As discussed in the SIS & Financial Aid tab, the “View Financial Aid Information” section of SIS may help answer questions you have regarding the completion of your aid applications and awards that have been made. Checking SIS before calling the office might provide the answers you need and avoid a somewhat long and frustrating hold time to talk to a staff member.
- Review the Frequently Asked Questions Web page.
- If you do need to call us, please have your student’s ID number available.
We thank parents and students for their understanding and patience during this very busy time!