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Transcript: Financial Aid Process for New Students

Transcript for the "Financial Aid Process for New Students" tutorial video

Mother: We are going to have to figure out how to pay for all this.

SA Coordinator: Financing your Penn State education is easy once you know the basics. It all starts with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA. Parents as well as students will need to enter their information on the FAFSA even if the student is no longer living at home. The FAFSA is the only document Penn State requires to be considered for need-based aid.

Daughter: FAFSA? Is that even going to help me?

SA Coordinator: It will. FAFSA will allow you to be considered for need-based loans, grants, scholarship, and work study. If you're starting in the summer, you will also need to do last year's FAFSA in addition to this year's FAFSA.

Daughter: What if we don't qualify for anything?

SA Coordinator: Most eligible first-year students will receive $5,500 in federal direct subsidized and/or unsubsidized loans. The government pays the interest on the subsidized loans while the student is school, but the interest will begin to accrue immediately on the unsubsidized loans. Your expected family contribution, or EFC, will determine how much of each loan type a student will receive. Academic colleges at Penn State like to see a FAFSA on file when considering their students for merit-based scholarships from the school. Also, you need to have a FAFSA on file in order for your parent to apply for a Parent PLUS loan.

Mother: The parent what now?

SA Coordinator: The Parent PLUS Loan. It's a federal loan that a parent can take out to assist with the cost of college. It will remain in the parent's name for the life of the loan. Both parents and step-parents can apply for this loan even if their name is not on the FAFSA. Parents can request up to a student's annual cost of attendance, or COA, minus any other aid when applying. The cost of attendance includes the cost of books, travel, supplies, personal care, and even off-campus rent. If a parent is turned down for a Parent PLUS Loan, the student will be reviewed for additional loan funding.

Mother: What if we would prefer to have the loan in her name, are their other options?

SA Coordinator: Private alternative loans from banks and credit unions are also available from individual private lenders. Unlike the Parent PLUS Loan, private alternative loans would be in the student's name. However, these loans do require a creditworthy co-signer, so be sure to plan ahead when applying. As with the Parent PLUS Loans, students can borrow up to your cost of attendance minus any other aid.

Mother: How will I know what her cost of attendance will be?

SA Coordinator: You can find her cost of attendance in your LionPATH award summary by clicking on the financial aid budget link. Using this information, you can plan ahead and be ready when it comes to accepting and finalizing your aid package and paying your bill.

Daughter: How do I finalize my aid package?

SA Coordinator: There are few steps you will need to take. For your federal direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans, you will need to complete a master promissory note and entrance counseling on You will also have to accept the loans in LionPATH by choosing the accept/decline option. Certain scholarships require a thank you note before the funds can be applied to your bill. So be sure to check with your scholarship providers. If you receive work study, you can work up to your award amount each semester. Even if you do not receive a work study award, you can still work wage payroll jobs on campus.

Daughter: Is there any way I could lose my aid eligibility?

SA Coordinator: I'm glad you asked. The federal government expects students who receive aid to maintain satisfactory academic progress. Students who drop or fail too many courses are removed from their major, do not maintain a satisfactory grade point average or GPA, or do not graduate in their designated time-frame are at risk of losing aid. Please contact the Office of Student Aid if you have any questions about your satisfactory academic progress. By the way, if she ever has any issues with satisfactory academic progress, we cannot discuss these issues with you. Students are protected by FERPA but we are always happy to speak directly to the student about any potential issues.

Daughter: Is there anything I can do now before I get here to lessen the cost?

SA Coordinator: There sure is. High school students and recent high school graduates should be spending time searching for outside scholarship sources. Sites like and are great places to start. You should also check out the Office of Student Aid's Facebook and Twitter pages. We post outside scholarship opportunities daily. We also post helpful tips for financing your education. Scholarships do not need to be paid back, so earning as many as you can is a great way to make college a little bit more affordable.

Mother: We are ready to be a Penn State family. I can't wait to tell your dad about all this.

Daughter: Mom!

SA Coordinator: Great. Just be sure to submit your FAFSA if you've not done so already. Oh, and more thing. The Office of Student Aid may ask you to verify information you submitted on your FAFSA. Be sure to send any verification information to our office as soon as you receive a request to ensure that your aid is ready and not on hold by the time the bill is due. Any verification information we request will be listed in your to-do-list on LionPATH. And if we don't request anything, you don't need to send anything.

Mother: And what if we need to reach your office if we have any questions?

SA Coordinator: We are located in 314 Shields Building. We are open Monday through Friday for phone calls and for walk-in hours. You can also contact us through our website, which is

Daughter: That's a lot less stressful than I thought it would be.

Mother: I wish I could say the same about seeing her leave for college.

SA Coordinator: Well we can't exactly help you with that but we are always here to help you with any financial aid needs. So, once more as a group, we are--

 [Simultaneously] Penn State!

SA Coordinator: Awesome. OK. So, first thing you're going to need to know--

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