To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easier than ever, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school.
In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.
To be eligible to receive federal student aid, you must:
- Be a citizen or eligible noncitizen of the United States.
- Have a valid Social Security Number. (Students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau are exempt from this requirement.)
- Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or have completed homeschooling. If you don’t, you may still be eligible for federal student aid if you were enrolled in college or career school prior to July 1, 2012. Go to https://studentaid.ed.gov/eligibility/basic-criteria for additional information.
- Be enrolled in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate.
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress.
- Not owe a refund on a federal student grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
- Register (or already be registered) with the Selective Service System, if you are a male and not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. (Students from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau are exempt from registering; see https://sss.gov for more information.)
- Not have a conviction for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, work-study, or loans). If you have such a conviction, you must complete the Student Aid Eligibility Worksheet to determine if you are eligible for aid or partially eligible for aid.
Many types of federal student aid, such as the Federal Pell Grant or subsidized loans where the government pays the interest while you are in college, also require you to have financial need. Additionally, once you have a bachelor’s degree or a first professional degree, you are generally not eligible for Pell or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG).
Applicants may apply online for financial aid at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa or contact the GACTC’s Financial Aid Office at 814-505-1257 for more information. Completing the FAFSA form will automatically begin the Federal Pell Grant application. There is no financial obligation to complete the FAFSA form.
One year programs are NOT eligible for the PA State Grant. Please disregard the letter you will automatically receive indicating ineligibility for state grants. The FAFSA form can be completed as early as October of the previous academic year. Financial Aid is based on the prior-prior year’s (PPY) tax information. Once the FAFSA form is complete you must go online and complete the entrance counseling and sign a Master Promissory Note, which is the actual loan document. The website is https://studentloans.gov. Please contact the GACTC’s Financial Aid office with additional questions at 814-505-1257.