The first step in the financial aid process for most colleges in the United States is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. You and your parents will need to create an account at the FAFSA website. You will each need to create a FAFSA ID number to electronically “sign” the document.
FAFSA website: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov
By completing the FAFSA, you are completing the application for most Federal Financial Aid programs including both grants and loans. This is a FREE application. You should NEVER pay somebody else to complete this form for you.
Pennsylvania also has a strong state grant program administered through AES/PHEAA. To apply for the state grant you must complete both of the following steps:
1.) complete the FAFSA and 2.) complete the State Grant application on the FAFSA website: fafsa.ed.gov.
Many colleges will also require that you submit other documents to apply for financial aid, such as a college-specific Financial Aid Application, federal tax documents, or the CSS Profile. It is usually a good idea to contact the colleges you’ve applied to directly to see what their requirements are.
Additionally, there are many websites that can provide information about applying for financial aid, making educated guesses about how much your family will be expected to pay, and scholarship opportunities.
Here are a few:
PHEAA—Student Aid Guide
Pennsylvania Department of Education—College Planning and Financial Aid
Most college-bound students can get all of their Internet research needs met at this page: http://www.educationplanner.org is a great sight for parents and students looking for information about choosing careers, looking for colleges, applying to colleges, and paying for college.