December Commencement Ceremony Reminder

Commencement

Special seating requests (such as accommodations for a wheelchair or a walker) should be made at Commencement rehearsal. Rehearsals will take place on November 29 and 30, at 3:30 p.m. at the Community Arts Center. After that, requests may be made by calling the Registrar’s Office at 570-327-4772. Special seating requests should be made prior to the Commencement ceremony so that the Community Arts Center can properly accommodate the request.

Residence Hall Break Closing Information

Thanksgiving Break

Wednesday, November 23 – Residence halls close at 10 a.m. for Thanksgiving Break

Sunday, November 27 – Residence halls reopen at 4 p.m.

Everyone must vacate the residence halls by Wednesday, November 23, at 10 a.m. The residence halls reopen on Sunday, November 27 at 4 p.m. No one will be permitted to stay over the break or return to the residence halls prior to Sunday, November 27 at 4 p.m.

Winter Break (between Fall and Spring semesters)

Saturday, December 10 – Residence halls close at 10 a.m. for all students or 24 hours after a student’s last final exam (whichever comes first). No one will be permitted to stay over the break or return to the residence halls prior to the day the halls reopen in January.

Saturday, January 7 – Residence halls open for new and returning students.

Students may leave items in their residence hall room during Winter Break; however, students should take care of the following to best secure their personal items and to make their apartment ready for new apartment/roommates they may receive in January.

  • Left Items: Each student should leave all of his/her items in one area of the room/apartment and labeled (for example, items could be left on the resident’s bed and desk). Students should communicate with their Resident Assistant as to where in the apartment their belongings are being placed. This is done because sometimes occupancy unexpectedly changes over the break, and students moving into an apartment need to know where the open space is located.
  • Items Not to Leave: Money, jewelry and other small valuables, and small electronic equipment
  • Cleaning: Students need to clean their apartment prior to leaving for break. In the final week of the semester, the Resident Assistants will be meeting with each room/apartment to complete a closing agreement. During this process, room/apartment mates develop a plan for cleaning the apartment prior to leaving at the end of the semester.

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Mark Your Calendars!!

As part of the Up All Night activities on Thursday, December 1, The College Store will have its annual Moonlight Madness Sale from 8 to 11 p.m. All Penn College clothing and gifts will be 30% off. This is the best sale of the year at The College Store. Can’t shop that night? Shop online on cyber Monday, November 28, and receive 30% off all Penn College clothing and gifts.

End of semester textbook buyback and rental return will start on Wednesday, November 30, and run through the end of final exams. Highest possible prices paid for your unwanted textbooks during this time, even if you purchased your books somewhere else. Fall semester rental textbooks are due back to The College Store by the end of final exams.

Financial Aid

Early FAFSA – What You Need to Know

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is administered by the U.S. Department of Education and minor changes are typically made to the FAFSA every year. There is nothing ‘minor’ about the changes for the 2017-18 academic year, and every student and parent should be aware of what is nicknamed Early FAFSA.

There are two big changes. First, the ‘early’ part: The 2017-18 FAFSA has been available for weeks, ever since October 1. No longer do students and parents need to wait until after we ring in the New Year to complete the FAFSA.

Okay. You may wonder, “How can we complete the FAFSA before we do our federal (IRS) tax returns?” The answer to that question explains the other big change: The 2017-18 FAFSA uses income and tax information from 2015, not 2016. That’s right: 2015 income, same as what was used for the 2016-17 FAFSA.

Using 2015 income means virtually all taxpayers have long completed their 2015 IRS tax returns. This will allow a high percentage of student and parent taxpayers to use the time-saving IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) while completing the FAFSA. You definitely should use the DRT because it:

  • Simplifies the FAFSA completion process
  • Reduces the odds of error on your student’s FAFSA
  • Reduces the likelihood that your student’s FAFSA is selected for Federal Verification

A growing number of Penn College students have already completed their 2017-18 FAFSA. How about your student? All students who plan to enroll in Summer 2017, Fall 2017, or Spring 2018 Semester classes should submit this FAFSA.

When should students and parents work together to submit the 2017-18 FAFSA? Sooner rather than later and certainly well before our new March 1 FAFSA Priority Submission Deadline. If you can make time during the next week, go for it. If not, make it a goal to have it done by the end of 2016.

Early FAFSA does not mean that financial aid will be awarded earlier than it was for this current academic year. Other factors control the timing of when aid can be awarded. Refer to our Financial Aid Award Timeline to learn when different types of aid are awarded.

Other than the two big changes explained above, the 2017-18 FAFSA will look very familiar. As always, contact the Financial Aid Office with any FAFSA questions.

Applying for Scholarships – ‘Tis the Season

All students should submit a Penn College scholarship application for the 2017-18 academic year, which opens in early December. A good time to encourage your student to apply is during the break between fall and spring semesters. Awarding will begin in early March so timeliness is important in order for students to submit one easy application to be considered for Penn College scholarships.

Most Penn College scholarships require full-time enrollment with a minimum GPA of 2.50, and most awards are split evenly between the fall and spring semesters. Contact us with any questions you have regarding Penn College scholarships.

On our scholarships Web page, we also provide a listing of external scholarships that are not funded by Penn College but have been verified as valid to the best of our ability. Students need to apply for each individual scholarship if they meet the criteria. Procedures and deadlines vary for each scholarship, and many deadlines occur during the late autumn and winter. Additionally, your student will find a few legitimate ‘Search Engines’ for regional and national scholarships at the bottom of our External Scholarships Web page.

2017-18 Pennsylvania State Grant Form – for New Students

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) determines financial state grant eligibility for Pennsylvania residents. First-time FAFSA applicants must submit PHEAA's State Grant Form (SGF) in order for PHEAA to determine eligibility. Here is how a new student completes the SGF:

  • Immediately after the FAFSA is submitted online, the following message appears on the FAFSA Confirmation page: “Start your state application to apply for Pennsylvania state-based financial aid.”
  • Click on the link included in that message to begin.
  • A number of questions must be answered and then verified before the 2017-18 SGF is submitted electronically.
  • The signature page of the SGF, officially termed the Statement of Certification and Authorization, must then be printed, signed, and mailed to PHEAA (failure to do this step will result in an incomplete application).

If your new student overlooks the first two steps above, don’t panic! S/he will still be able to complete the SGF but will need to wait at least 3 or 4 business days before s/he receives an e-mail from PHEAA with different instructions.

Every year, we have students and parents who overlook the State Grant Form or else never submit the signature page. Make sure that your student is not one of those students potentially losing out on a PHEAA Grant!

Returning students usually do not need to complete the State Grant Form. PHEAA informs students in May about their tentative eligibility for the 2017-18 academic year. If you, or your student, have any questions about the SGF contact PHEAA at 800-692-7392.

2017-18 On-Campus Housing Application Process

The 2017-18 on-campus housing application process for current students begins February 1, 2017. Look for additional information in the mail regarding this process or visit the Residence Life website.

Transfer Students

Throughout the fall semester the Office of Transfer Initiatives has coordinated a transitory series for newly enrolled transfer students titled, "Transfer Transitions: Staying Connected." This series of events has assisted students with becoming acquainted with policies and procedures at Penn College including scheduling and advising weeks, midterm grades and strategies, tutoring services, mentoring, and career services for obtaining internships and jobs after graduation. Students were able to network with other transfer students as well as representatives from various offices such as the Academic Success Center, the Registrar's office, Career Services, Student Activities, and Academic Services and College Transitions. Refreshments and raffle prizes were provided and students made connections that helped them on their path to success. It was a great time to connect and was considered a success! This series will be offered again in the spring semester. If you have any questions, please e-mail our office.

Another new program was offered to transfer students this semester with peer mentoring. Transfer students could request a peer mentor to help show them the ropes on campus. Peer mentoring provided students with the opportunity to form connections, network, and answer questions about the campus and community. Students and mentors were encouraged to meet on a regular basis to get involved and become acclimated to campus. The number of requests exceeded our expectations, and we are enthusiastically looking forward to offering this program again in the future! Please e-mail us any questions.

Counseling/Health and Wellness

THE POWER OF CONNECTIVITY

The idea of our children growing into their own unique selves is a powerful, exciting, and complicated time. As a family member, we want what is best for our children and to see them thrive. My personal experience as an alumni, staff member, and adjunct faculty has shown me that Pennsylvania College of Technology wants the same for all of our students. We work hard to help foster a sense pride and compassion in our student body, and it’s been powerful to see the ways in which they have worked to give back to our Penn College community.

Through our grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Penn College has been working with our students to help foster a more holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing. Our focus is to help educate students on the importance of creating balance and taking care of their own health and the health of those around them. We have been doing so by implementing various grant activities all over campus, with tremendous response.

Our students are first introduced to prevention efforts through the Community of Respect session during our summer Connections program. Here we teach the power and importance of looking out for our peers and how simply offering help and hope, they can change a person’s life. We talk about the core values of our institution and invite all students to take a pledge, committing to the support and inclusion of all their peers.

From there, students participate in our online training program, Kognito. Here they learn how to identify at-risk behaviors of their peers, how to have difficult conversations, and how to connect to resources that exist on and off our campus (for those who may be suffering from clinical anxiety, depression, and suicidality). Upon completion of the training, 96.5% of students reported that they felt confident in their ability to discuss their concerns with a fellow student exhibiting signs of psychological distress.

On October 22, our students, faculty, and staff joined with the local Williamsport community to raise over $9,000 for suicide prevention through participation in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Walk. This program provided the opportunity for our Penn College Community to come together and walk to stand for suicide prevention.

It has been powerful to see our students engaging in conversations about mental health and wellbeing and learning about the importance of balance and self-care, and we encourage you to continue that conversation with your students and family at home. If you see changes in your family member, ask how they are doing and create a safe space for them to talk about their feelings. If they express distress or anxiety, don’t brush it off as normal, these can be warning signs for serious depression, anxiety, and suicidality. Help offer them a reprieve from the stresses of school and engage in activities that are fun and provide connectivity. If they are really struggling, connect them to resources to get the help they need to move past their struggles and return in the spring with a fresh start.

We look forward to continuing our work in the spring semester and wish you and your family a break full of joy, relaxation, and quality time!

What It Means to Be NCAA Division III

As many of you know, Penn College is a member of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) within NCAA's Division III.

But do you know what that means?

Most of us hear news and watch highlights from NCAA Division I schools (like Penn State, Pitt, Notre Dame, etc.). Athletics in Division III is much different than at these large, scholarship-driven institutions. At Penn College, and in Division III, the student-athlete experience is primarily about their academic pursuits. We don't offer scholarships and virtually all students will go professional in some other field.

We are committed to providing a rewarding experience that enriches and promotes academic and athletic success, sportsmanship, fair play, accountability, amateurism, integrity, and teamwork for student-athletes. Our Coaches and Athletic Department always place academic success, fair and equitable treatment, and the health and welfare of student-athletes first in all decisions.

While we are most proud of our student-athletes when they walk across the stage at graduation, we are also delighted at their success on the court or field.

Learn more and follow the Wildcat teams on the Athletics website.

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