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Applying for Financial Aid

Applying for Financial Aid

In order to apply for financial aid at Penn State, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA can be completed and submitted entirely online on the U.S. Department of Education website, While completing the FAFSA, you will be asked to indicate to which colleges you would like your FAFSA information submitted. In order to apply for financial aid, you will need to add Penn State to your list of colleges.

To be eligible for need-based financial aid at Penn State, every student must:

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year
  • Be enrolled/accepted in an eligible program of study
  • Be enrolled at least half-time (6 credits for undergraduate students)
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen with a valid social security number
  • Be registered for Selective Service if male and ages 18-25
  • Not be in default on an educational loans and must not owe a repayment on an adjusted federal grant
  • Comply with Penn State's academic progress standards

If you need assistance completing the FAFSA, we can help! Financial Aid information sessions and hands-on FAFSA completion workshops will be held at Penn State Fayette from November through April each year. For more information on these programs, please visit our Admissions Events webpage or call the financial aid office at 724-430-4132.

Steps to Complete the FAFSA

  1. Create Your FSA ID
    Before you can submit the FAFSA, both the student applying for financial aid and one parent/guardian (for dependent students only) will need to create an FSA ID. Click here to create your FSA ID.

  2. Collect your W-2 Form and Tax Returns
    Much of the information that you complete on the FAFSA will require you to have available your filed tax returns from two years prior. For example, if you will be applying for admission beginning in the Fall 2017 semester, you must have your tax information from the 2015 tax year.
    College Entry Semester  
    • Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Summer 2018
      Required Tax Year—2015*
    • Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Summer 2019
      Required Tax Year—2016
    • Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Summer 2020
      Required Tax Year—2017
    • Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Summer 2021
      Required Tax Year—2018

    Because of a change to federal financial aid regulations, the required tax year will change from a ‘prior-year’ model to a ‘prior-prior-year’ model starting with the 2017-18 academic years. As a result, students applying for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years will use the same tax information on their FAFSA.

  3. Complete and Submit the FAFSA
    You will be able to complete the FAFSA for the upcoming academic year as early as October 1. For high school seniors applying to college, this means the FAFSA will be available beginning in October of your senior year. Penn State University has a priority FAFSA filing deadline of February 15 each year. When asked to which colleges you want to send your FAFSA information, make sure to add Penn State University.

  4. Receive and Review your Student Aid Report (SAR)
    After you submit your FAFSA online and it has been processed by the Department of Education, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that will summarize the information that you have provided and give you basic information about your financial aid eligibility. Your SAR will be sent to the email address with which you create your FSA ID. If you see any errors on your SAR, you must log back into your FAFSA and submit corrections online with the accurate information.
    Contained within the SAR will be your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount of money the federal government believes that you can contribute for one year of college education.
    The amount of financial aid for which you may qualify will be based on a combination of your family’s EFC and the Cost of Attendance (COA) at Penn State. Your Financial Need* (Need) is determined by the difference between the Cost of Attendance (COA) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Financial Need is the amount that Penn State attempts to cover using financial aid.
    Cost of Attendance (COA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need*
    * Penn State University does not guarantee to meet the full financial need of every student. Financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until financial aid funds are exhausted. Merit aid is typically awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to those students who meet scholarship criteria.

Financial Aid - Important Dates:

  • October 1—FAFSA available online at
  • December 1—Scholarship awarding begins at some campuses
  • February 15—Penn State FAFSA Priority Filing Deadline
  • March 1—Penn State begins awarding Need-Based Financial Aid
  • May 1—Pennsylvania State (PHEAA) Grant Application Deadline
  • Early August—Fall Semester Tuition Bills Due