2018-2019 FAFSA and Return of the IRS DRT

All students who will take classes during Summer 2018, Fall 2018, or Spring 2019 semester should complete the 2018-2019 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which is now available. Most students born during or after 1995 will need their parent(s) to provide information and to sign their FAFSA. How do students and parents sign a FAFSA? By using their FSA ID.

You and your student will provide financial and tax information for calendar year 2016 on your student’s 2018-2019 FAFSA. Since 2016 tax returns have long been finalized for virtually all taxpayers, there is no need for delay. Talk to your student and make it a mutual goal to complete and submit his/her 2018-2019 FAFSA before the end of 2017. That way your student will easily make our March 1 FAFSA Priority Submission Deadline.

Note that students starting at Penn College in our Spring 2018 semester need to submit their 2017-2018 FAFSA as soon as possible, if not already done. Like everyone else, these students should complete their 2018-2019 FAFSA this fall to get ready for the next academic year.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is back for 2018-2019! As many of you know, the DRT allows a student or parent taxpayer to transfer his or her key tax and financial data from IRS records directly to the FAFSA. The DRT existed for several years but, early in 2017, U.S. government officials shut down the DRT due to high security concerns, including the risk of identity theft. To address these concerns, the 2018-2019 DRT has undergone changes. The most noticeable changes impact the data transferred by the DRT:

  1. Data values will not be visible on FAFSAs.
  2. Students and parents will not be able to change data values transferred by the DRT.

Over the years, Financial Aid staff at Penn College and other colleges nationwide have observed the high degree of reliability due to the DRT and continue to strongly recommend its use by students and parents. The DRT process saves you and your student time and greatly increases accuracy on FAFSAs. It also reduces the odds of a FAFSA selected for Federal Verification by the U.S. Department of Education and expedites the verification process for those FAFSAs that are selected.

Information about 2018-2019 FAFSAs we receive for Penn College students will first appear in the Financial Information section of SIS in mid-November. If you or your student are unsure about any FAFSA questions while preparing for or completing a FAFSA, do not hesitate to contact the Financial Aid Office.

Free FAFSA Completion Sessions

The Penn College Financial Aid Office has a long tradition of offering FAFSA Completion Sessions to help answer questions and provide guidance while students and families complete their FAFSAs. In the coming months, we have two free sessions planned, both in Room 1049 of the Student & Administrative Services Center (SASC) on our main campus:

  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 11
  • 3:30 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 23

To register for either session or to ask questions, contact the Financial Aid Office. In advance of each session, registrants will receive more information about what documents to bring.

In Pennsylvania, PHEAA coordinates a list of FAFSA Completion ‘Help Events’ across the state. Penn College students and families who need assistance completing their FAFSAs may attend any of these events. Many other states offer similar help sessions.

December Commencement Ceremony Reminder

Commencement rehearsal NOV28 NOV29

Special seating requests (such as accommodations for a wheelchair or a walker) should be made at Commencement rehearsal. Rehearsals will take place on Tuesday, November 28 and Wednesday, November 29 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.

Wildcat Wishes Featured Package

Bouquet Collection - $20

Send your student an irresistible bouquet of gourmet cookies or candy bars. Package includes freshly baked sugar and chocolate chip cookies or an assortment of candy bars and a coupon for a half gallon of milk.

Order This Wildcat Wish Package Order Other Wildcat Wish Packages

Wildcat Club

Penn College launched the Wildcat Club on September 13. The mission of the new program is to provide support for Penn College’s 200+ student-athletes. Gifts to the Wildcat Club will provide program support for 15 team, enhance 5 facilities, and inspire coaches and athletes to give 100% in competition.

Weekly Honors

In September, Penn College sophomore Josh Velez (Lewistown, Pa.) and Sidney Trunzo (Williamsport, Pa.) were named North Eastern Athletic Conference Runners of the Week. Both won the Morrisville Invitational on September 9. It was the first time in program history that two runners earned weekly honors. 

Developing Resilient Students

As students leave for college, parents often do all that they can to minimize the impact of fear and failure. This means devoting a lot of time, energy, and available resources into shielding their student from potential or existing pain. Parents do this out of love, responsibility, and obligation to their family. They want their students to develop into adults who are capable of taking care of themselves and worry about their ability to manage on their own. At some point, it becomes difficult to balance the instinct to protect with the urge to problem solve or rescue.

Since parents have kept a watchful eye on their children while growing up, they often have high expectations that college will do the same. Although college does provide a wealth of resources and support, responses to problems that develop may not happen as quickly as parents would like. As a result, frustrations grow, and the urge to problem solve takes over. While this approach is understandable, students who learn how to independently navigate their way out of trouble discover that they can survive without other people coming to their rescue.

When parents solve problems for their students, both parents and students might feel better in the short term, but it can prevent students from developing coping skills later in life. In addition, students may miss the opportunity to work through challenges, leading to a decreased sense of control over their own lives. Of course, this does not mean that parents should avoid being helpful, supportive, or caring. As long as parents can encourage healthy, independent decision-making, there is a greater likelihood that students will become well-adjusted, autonomous, and resourceful adults capable of solving problems on their own.

Allowing your student to work through the pain and fear of adversity teaches them the necessary skills to develop a resilient attitude. In other words, resilient students learn to believe in themselves and make necessary adjustments when faced with hardship, distress, misfortune, and other threats to their wellbeing. When faced with the instinctual urge to rescue, consider the following approaches designed to help you provide support while also building resilience and independence in your student.

  • Validate the awkwardness and difficulty of adjusting to college and making new friends and allow your student to be open with you about their thoughts and feelings.
  • Encourage them to remain on campus during the weekends, as well as becoming involved in clubs, organizations, and intramural activities. This is a great opportunity to develop social connections by meeting people and participating in campus events.
  • Help your student develop personal control over the events in their lives by helping them set reasonable goals while moving towards them one step at a time.
  • Remind them that moving successfully towards their goals can build the confidence they will need to work through future challenges. This will allow them to trust themselves while solving their own problems.
  • Challenge them to do things for themselves. Whether its laundry, writing a check, cleaning, making appointments, or buying groceries, independence can increase self-confidence and help them to believe they’re capable of handling many situations.
  • Foster their ability to make decisions on their own. This doesn’t mean that they can’t come to you for advice. It is still important for them to know that you are available to talk when they need you.
  • Encourage them to connect with the various support services available through Penn College if you suspect your student is struggling. Counseling Services, Health Services, Academic Services Center, Disability Services, Career Services, Student Activities, Financial Aid, and more are readily available to meet with your student.

Major Re-assessment: Taking a “Nontraditional” Path to Success

Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls. 
---Joseph Campbell

It may happen during the next visit home, it may come as a call in the middle of the night. or it may even be sent in a text. Your student lets you know that the interest in the current major is just not there any longer and a change is desperately needed. Although this may be a disconcerting and emotional time for the student, your response to the situation can make a world of difference. Just remember; this may be a normal part of the college experience.

Studies suggest that  college students consider a change of major at least once during their college years. This can occur for a number of reasons: the discovery of a new field; a change in interest; ability does not match effort; or maybe the major is not as expected. Your support and guidance can help your student approach this challenge with a positive mindset. 

As new majors are explored, stress the importance of finding their passion and doing what they love. Include opportunities that may not conform to traditional career stereotypes. For female students, this may mean a career in a STEM-related field (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics). Male students might wish to pursue a career in the Health Sciences or Education fields. Your student may find more opportunity, happiness and success by considering a nontraditional path.

Here are a few suggestions for helping your student find the right major:

  1. Professional help is available through Career Services and the Academic Schools.
  2. Help the student investigate the impact on length of enrollment, financial commitment, curriculum requirements, and employability. This will help to inform the decision.
  3. It is important to consider all opportunities. The market is changing so fast, there may be careers that exist when students get out of college that simply did not exist when they started. 
  4. Scholarships may be available to those who select a nontraditional path. Once hired, the incentives for choosing a nontraditional career field can be both numerous and diverse.
  5. Do not rush the decision. Any change to the curriculum would most likely go into effect the next term.

Whether your student is excited about this new opportunity or feeling overwhelmed, keeping the lines of communication open is a great way to offer support. Listen and guide. It is worth the investment of your time.

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