Pennsylvania FAFSA Applications
Submitting the Pennsylvania FAFSA application, which is also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a student's first step toward accessing any available financial aid for college or trade school. Before you explore how to submit FAFSA application materials, it is important understand exactly what the FAFSA is and why it is important to complete it accurately. The FAFSA is an application for federal student aid, but it has many other purposes. The application a multi-purpose tool used by states, colleges and trade schools to make decisions about students' eligibility for all types of financial aid, including direct assistance through grants and other supports, such as loans or work-study opportunities. To learn how to apply for FAFSA student aid, continue to read the following sections.
When to Submit FAFSA Applications in Pennsylvania
Students investigating how to apply for FAFSA should first consider when they need to apply. The window to submit an application for federal student aid is extended, but some funding sources may be exhausted before the end of the application cycle. Turning in your Pennsylvania FAFSA application early in the cycle increases your chances of receiving the maximum potential funding for which you are eligible. Deadlines to apply for federal student aid may also be set by individual institutions, as many base their own eligibility and awards on the FAFSA. You must resubmit a PA FAFSA application each year to continue to qualify for student financial aid. There is no cost associated with this process. To learn more about FAFSA deadlines in Pennsylvania, you can download our comprehensive guide today.
Before You Can Submit a FAFSA Application in Pennsylvania
Decisions about how to submit FAFSA application forms can begin once you have determined when you need to apply to satisfy the college(s) of your choice. There are three ways to apply for FAFSA: online, using a paper application or through the college to which you are applying or at which you are currently enrolled. Submitting Pennsylvania FAFSA applications online is recommended by the U.S. Department of Education whenever possible.
Students asking, “How do I fill out the FAFSA form?” should begin by setting up a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). An FSA ID will simplify the process of submitting FAFSA application documents and will therefore save applicants time. To get an FSA ID to fill out the FAFSA form, you will need some basic personal information such as name, date of birth and Social Security number. Once established, you can use this ID to electronically sign forms, sign the contracts associated with student loans and log in to online systems that regulate and track your federal student aid. Students can submit a FAFSA application in Pennsylvania as dependent or independent students. The parents or guardians of any student who is applying as a dependent will need to create their own FSA ID in order to co-sign financial aid forms and contracts.
A student begin to gather the other documentation they need to fill out a PA FAFSA form once he or she and his or her parent or guardian (if required) have created FSA IDs. To apply for FAFSA aid, students and/or their parents will need information from the following sources:
- Driver's licenses (or equivalent ID)
- Social Security cards
- Tax return forms (most recent year)
- Other financial records that may influence the income totals recorded on the application for federal student aid
For more information about required materials needed to complete a FAFSA application in PA, download our complimentary guide today.
Filling out the FAFSA Form in Pennsylvania
The online Pennsylvania FAFSA application does not have to be completed all at once. Applicants can save in-progress applications, which they can return to later. This feature is helpful for families attempting to work out how to apply for FAFSA when a student is away at school and both the student and his or her parent(s) need to complete sections of the application. Each time applicants log in to a PA federal student aid application, it is recommended that they check the data security settings on the computer they are using to ensure the safety of personal information, particularly when using a public computer.
Students filling out the FAFSA form for the first time will start a new application. If you have completed at least one application for federal student aid previously, you can opt to renew an existing application. This saves time, as some of the information will automatically roll over from the preexisting application. If you select this option, it is important to remember to verify that the information carried over is still correct. Failure to do so can cause unwanted delays in receiving your financial aid eligibility determination.
Next, the application for federal student aid will ask you to list which colleges or institutions you would like to receive your results. Initially, students must select no fewer than one and no more than ten schools. The list can be amended later to include additional schools, if desired. This PA FAFSA application recipient list is confidential and will not be provided to the selected institutions. Once your Pennsylvania FAFSA application has been processed by the Federal Student Aid Office, the schools you selected will automatically be forwarded the results of your eligibility determination. Most will then use that information to inform their own financial aid assessments and determine your eligibility for education grants and other awards.
Submitting Your Completed Pennsylvania FAFSA Application
After you have completed filling out a FAFSA application, carefully review the whole document. Check online FAFSA applications forms to ensure that you have entered all numbers correctly. Verify that all entries on a paper FAFSA application are clearly legible. If you are submitting your federal student aid form through your college's financial aid office, there may be staff available to assist you in catching and correcting common errors. Once you are sure everything is correct, sign (or electronically sign) your FAFSA. If you are using the online PA FAFSA application system, you will receive a confirmation of submission. Keep this for your records, as it may help you complete the process more speedily the following year when it is time to reapply for financial aid.