Financial Aid

If you missed WASHS, please scroll to the bottom of this page to view the excellent PowerPoint that was presented by PHEAA in 2016!

Financial Aid can be an overwhelming topic. There's lots to learn to understand the process. This page will provide some basic information and links to places to find more information. For more information on Financial Aid please visit PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency) and FINAID.ORG.

Types of Financial Aid 

There are 3 basic types of Financial Aid:

1. Grants - Money awarded to students that does not need to be repaid, typically grants are need based.
2. Scholarships - Money awarded to students that does not need to be repaid; Typically one must apply for scholarships
3. Loans - Money borrowed by students or parents that must be repaid


There are 4 levels to look for Financial Aid:

1. Local level (i.e., Local scholarships)
2. Institutional level (At the college/university itself)
3. State level (PHEAA-Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency)
4. Federal level (FAFSA-Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

In general, the best practice is to accept financial aid in this order:

1. Free money (Scholarships & Grants)
2. Earned money (Work-study at the college)
3. Borrowed money (Federal student loans)
4. Loans from your college
5. Private loans 

The Process

The financial aid process starts with filing the Free application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSA). This is done after October 1 of the senior year. This one form makes students eligible to be considered for federal grants and loans.The information on it may be used by individual institutions to award scholarships as well. *It does not in any way obligate parents financially toward the students education, it is simply a way of determining what type of aid the family might need. 

The WASHS Counseling Office offers a Financial Aid Night program every September. This is a free seminar during which a Director of Financial Aid at a local college presents info on how to complete the FAFSA and begin the financial aid process. We also hold a FAFSA completion workshop in October so that students and parents can ask questions as they fill out the form. For tips on how to avoid common mistakes made on the FASFA, click HERE

Scholarships

Many students and parents are interested in pursuing scholarship funds.Organizations, private individuals, and the colleges and universities to which a student is admitted are all possible sources for scholarships.Students should be certain to fill out all paperwork that their college requires to be considered for the scholarships offered at that school.

Additionally,there are several national scholarship search engines students that take a student's profile and searches it's database for scholarships that fit that individual student. Some of these websites are:  Fastweb; Schoolsoup; Scholarships and PetersonsBigFuture and Career Cruising also offer individualized scholarship searches. It is good idea to register with one or two of these websites.

Lastly, many local,state, and national organizations send information to the WASHS Counseling Office. As a service to our students, we advertise these scholarships and provide a place for students to pick up any necessary forms to apply for the scholarships in our office. We also keep an updated list of these scholarships on the website scholarship link

All scholarships coming into the counseling office are advertised for 3 days on the announcements. A folder is created for each scholarship and documents pertaining to the scholarship are placed in the folder. These folders are kept in the "Scholarship Box" in the Counseling Office.Students and parents are welcome to look through the box at their leisure. We only ask that if you take the last form in a folder you notify one of the Counseling Office secretaries so they can replenish the folder.

Scams

There are many companies out there that promise to help you find scholarships or complete your FAFSA form in exchange for a fee. Please be aware that no legitimate scholarship charges a fee to apply, and the FAFSA is the FREE application for Federal Student Aid. Conventional wisdom is do not pay for help with funding college. If you have trouble with your FAFSA any college financial aid officer would be happy to assist you, even if you do not plan to attend their college! We also host FAFSA completion events with financial aid experts to aid in the process of completing the form. 

Comparing Financial Aid Award Letters

Have you received your Financial Aid Award letters and want to know how to decipher what they mean? Bring your award letter in to your college advisor and they can help interpret. Big Future through the College Board also has a great website that walks you through how to interpret your award letter(s). CLICK HERE to go to their website! Keep in mind that award letters may be sent out at varying times from different institutions. 

Please click on the link below to view the student workshop that was delivered to our interested students on November 17, 2015.
Financial Aid Presentation

Please click on the link below if you missed WASHS Financial Aid Night 2016:
PHEAA Financial Aid Night 2016-17

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