Stimulus funds mean more money for college grants
Published 9:23 am Friday, March 27, 2009
Paul D. Camp Community College Financial Aid Coordinator Teresa Harrison reports good news in the financial aid arena: The recently approved stimulus package includes an increase in Federal Pell Grant funding as of August, and she anticipates more free grant funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia as well.
With fall classes starting Aug. 19, Harrison advises eligible students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority filing deadline: June 1. The earlier you apply, the better the financial aid offer you are likely to get. This is because the Financial Aid Office has some smaller pots of money that deplete quickly and rewards eligible “early- bird” applicants by giving them those extra funds.
Following are more tips from Harrison:
Federal Financial Aid
The FAFSA is submitted once a year to the Department of Education electronically, at www.fafsa.ed.gov. A computer is available in the Financial Aid Offices in Franklin and Suffolk, if you need some help filing.
No appointment is necessary; just bring your tax information during normal office hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays. Allow at least 30 minutes for the application process.
If you file on your own, make sure you use the right Web site. Many financial aid and scholarship scams exist, including ones that ask you to pay to file the FAFSA online. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The official Web site is www.fafsa.ed.gov — not .com.
Before you start, obtain a PIN (personal identification number) at www.pin.ed.gov to speed up the process. If parental information is required, one parent must also apply for and use his/her own PIN to sign the application as well. Your PIN is your electronic signature. By law, you cannot apply for or use another person’s federal aid PIN number, because it is the same as signing his or her name.
Gather the following required information to apply: your PIN to sign; copy of your 2008 federal taxes; copy of your spouse’s federal taxes (if applicable); copy of your parent’s federal taxes (if applicable); copies of W-2 form(s), if worked and did not file taxes; Social Security numbers; Driver’s license; and school codes. Note that beginning with the fall term, untaxed income such as Social Security, TANF, and combat pay are no longer required to be reported on the FAFSA. The Paul D. Camp Community College federal school code is 009159 (for all locations).
When you submit your application, make sure you print the confirmation number, which will include the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. This number directly relates to the amount of aid you could receive. If the Financial Aid Office asks for any other documentation, be sure to reply promptly or you could lose out on some aid.
If you are a graduating high school student, don’t forget to provide a copy of your transcript. Some aid is available only if your GPA is at a certain minimum or if you have an Advanced Studies Diploma.
Apply for local scholarships. Our fall scholarship books for graduating high school seniors are available at local high school guidance offices and online at www.pdc.edu (choose Paying for College, and then Scholarships from the menu in the right column). The application deadline is April 17th. Local scholarships for other students will be posted April 10th. Check with your employer as well as local civic clubs, churches, and other organizations.
At PDCCC, we are dedicated to providing a debt-free education for our students. So, even if you don’t qualify for the free aid we provide, we offer a no-interest payment plan through Nelnet.
Interested students should apply as early as possible for the lowest downpayment option. We do not participate in student loan programs, such as the Stafford Loan.
For more details on financial aid, call 569-6715 or 925-6346. For information on other services and programs available at PDCCC, call 569-6700, or visit the Web site at www.pdc.edu.