Apply for Financial Aid

An important first step for financial aid is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

If you are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen seeking need-based financial aid, you must complete a FAFSA each year. This is the only application required to apply for federal grants, work-study, and direct loans at PAFA. The PA State Grant and other grant programs have separate applications.

Financial Aid Application Process

Create A Federal Student Aid ID

Before you can file the FAFSA, you must have a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). An FSA ID gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature.

Create Your FSA ID

Complete the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine your eligibility for student aid. We encourage students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is required in order to receive any federal or state aid, as well as some institutional aid.

The FAFSA can be completed online starting October 1 of each calendar year.

Complete the FAFSA

Entering IRS Tax Information

The FAFSA for the 2020–21 school year will use your 2018 tax information.

We recommend you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool available in the financial section for entering income information on to your FAFSA. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool can only be used for tax filers whose tax returns have been processed by the IRS.

Submit Your Student Aid Report

After the FAFSA is completed, a Student Aid Report (SAR) is created. The report is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Review the information and if corrections are needed, apply them to part 2 of the SAR and re-submit the correct information.

Review Your Award Letter

PAFA sends a financial aid award letter. Once PAFA receives your Student Aid Report, the Office of Financial Aid will generate an award letter outlining the financial aid package, including scholarships, grants, and federal student loans. Return the signed award letter only if you are declining part of the award.

Apply for Student Loans

Those choosing to borrow from the Federal Stafford Loan Program will sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete entrance counseling. These may be found online here.

Students and families who wish to apply for a Parent PLUS or Graduate PLUS Loan should complete the PLUS Loan application in addition to a Master Promissory Note.

Apply for Student Loans


October 1FAFSA Application Opens
February 1FAFSA Priority Consideration due
PHEAA State Grant FAFSA due

Application Codes


Financial Aid Eligibility

In order to be eligible for federal or state aid, students must be:

  • US citizen or permanent resident (eligible non-citizens)
  • High school graduate or GED recipient
  • Seeking an eligible degree or certificate program*
  • Have a valid Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Registered for Selective Service (Males only)

File your FAFSA as soon as possible, as some aid is first-come, first-served. Allow 3-5 business days for your FAFSA to be processed by both the Department of Education and PAFA.

*Some non-matriculated or certificate programs may not be eligible for federal or state financial aid. If you have any questions about the aid eligibility of your program, contact the Office of Financial Aid.

Financial Aid Verification

Every year, students are randomly selected for verification by the federal government. Those selected are required to submit documentation in support of their FAFSA information. Any inconsistencies may change or forfeit their financial aid.

Pennsylvania PHEAA State Grant

The Pennsylvania State Grant is funded by the Commonwealth and awarded by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) to undergraduate Pennsylvania residents who demonstrate high financial need. Undergraduate students who wish to apply for the PHEAA State Grant must have their FAFSA completed by February 1st.