Student Aid: Three Easy Steps to Prepare for the Year Ahead

The fall semester is the beginning of a new academic year and a new year for financial aid. Taking a few simple actions to prepare now can help you know what to expect and plan ahead. Start with the following three steps.

1. Review your Student Aid Checklist and Student Aid Summary. You can find your checklist and summary in eLion in the Financial section. Take the time to make sure you’ve completed any financial aid actions you need to take and review what kind of funding you have in place. If you have been selected for verification, you will want to get your documents in to the Office of Student Aid as quickly as possible.

When all financial aid action items are complete, your student aid will appear on your tuition bill. Be sure to compare your costs to your aid, as some resources may have changed in the past year and you don’t want to be caught off guard without sufficient funds. Please remember to pay your bill to complete your registration.

If you are expecting a refund of excess aid, please remember that it is not immediately available for use and that World Campus does not offer book vouchers.  You will need to be prepared to pay for your materials out of pocket prior to the start of the semester.

2. Make sure you understand your loan debt. Many students are surprised to learn that there are annual and aggregate limits to the federal Direct Stafford Loan program. Visit the National Student Loan Data System to know where you stand and what to expect in repayment. You can learn more about managing your aid at the Understanding Federal Financial Aid webinar on August 13 and by attending presentations by Dr. Daad Rizk, Penn State’s new Financial Literacy Coordinator.

3. Search for scholarships. Using search engines to find outside scholarships is a great way to find scholarships that meet your individual criteria. Remember, you should never have to pay to apply for a scholarship. Remember that scholarships are highly competitive and your application is what the selection committee reviews; be sure to write clearly, use correct punctuation and grammar, and put your best foot forward!

The Jane Ireland Fund Scholarship application is now open and ready! This unique scholarship seeks to provide support to World Campus students in need of additional funding during the spring or summer semester, 2014. Hurry-the deadline is September 15, 2013!

If you have any questions or want to discuss your individual circumstances, you can always contact the Office of Student Aid for World Campus and Continuing Education at studentaid@outreach.psu.edu or 814-867-4244.

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