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FAQ - Financial Aid

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General Financial Aid Questions

How do I get financial aid?

If you are interested in student aid, contact the Office of Student Aid or the student aid representative at your Penn State Campus.

Where is my financial aid?

Your Student Aid Summary is available at your Student Center.

The Student Aid Summary application allows you to view your financial aid information for each semester of the academic year.

Any action required will be listed on your Student Aid Checklist. We encourage you to check your Student Aid Summary often for any updates.

How do I e-sign my Federal Direct Stafford Master Promissory Note (MPN)?

The Master Promissory Note for the Federal Direct Stafford Loan can be completed online or by contacting the Office of Student Aid. Information for completing this online is available at: http://studentaid.psu.edu/types-of-aid/loans/stafford/overview#accept.

I was told I have an "Entrance Hold" on my loan. What does this mean?

Federal Regulations require the completion of a Loan Entrance Counseling Session prior to the disbursement of your student loan(s). Entrance counseling provides information that will help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a loan borrower, as well as other tools to assist you with managing your loans.

Penn State students other than Hershey medical students and Dickinson law students will receive an e-mail invitation to complete an Online Loan Entrance Counseling Session at elion.psu.edu.

Hershey medical students and Dickinson law students will be contacted by their campus student aid representative for instructions concerning the completion of a Loan Entrance Counseling Session.

How do I complete the Loan Entrance Counseling?

The Federal Direct Stafford Loan Entrance Counseling session can be completed on eLion if you have an activated Access Account. Just login to elion.psu.edu and select "Loan Entrance Counseling" from the menu. Penn State will not receive the Federal Direct Stafford loan funds until completion of this counseling session.

Federal Direct Stafford Loans

I was told I have a "verification hold" on my loan. What does this mean?

Your record has been selected for a process called Verification. You will need to provide some additional information to the Office of Student Aid (or the Office of Veterans Affairs) BEFORE your loan can be credited to your student account. Please review your Student Aid Summary on eLion for additional information. If you have further questions, please contact the Office of Student Aid at http://studentaid.psu.edu.

I am told I have a "transcript hold" on my loan. What does this mean?

Your record indicates that you attended another school other than Penn State. Federal Regulations require you to provide a Financial Aid Transcript (FAT) from each institution BEFORE your loan can be credited to your student account. To determine the school(s) that must provide an FAT to Penn State, please contact the Office of Student Aid http://studentaid.psu.edu.

Grants

Where do I take my high school transcript for the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)?

Final high school transcripts should be clearly marked "For ACG Review" and mailed to:

Office of Student Aid
The Pennsylvania State University
314 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802-1220

Phone: (814)865-6301
Fax: (814)863-0322

The University will need to document each student's "rigorous program of study" to determine eligibility for the ACG. For further instructions see:

http://studentaid.psu.edu/aidprog/acg.shtml

How can I be considered for grants?

The first step in being considered for financial assistance is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA application is available at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.

If you need assistance completing the FAFSA, contact the Office of Student Aid at the Penn State campus nearest you.

What grants are available to Penn State students?

Please visit the Office of Student Aid Web site at http://studentaid.psu.edu/types-of-aid/grants for a list of available grants.

Perkins/University Loans

What is an "Exit Interview"?

If you have a Federal Perkins/University/Primary Care student loan(s), Federal Regulations and school policy require students who are no longer enrolled, or enrolled less than half-time, complete student loan exit counseling. Through this exit counseling, you will be informed of your rights and responsibilities regarding your student loans. Exit interviews provide a complete explanation of repayment, deferment and cancellation privileges.

If you are graduating or your enrollment falls below half-time status, you will receive an e-mail invitation to conduct an Online Exit Interview Session at https://heartland.ecsi.net.

If you withdraw or are enrolled less than half-time and do not receive an email invitation to complete exit counseling, please contact Student Financial Services at https://www.sfs.psu.edu/question.cfm and an invitation with instructions will be emailed to you. Paper exit counseling packets are available upon request. Please note, transcript and registration holds will be placed if exit counseling is not completed.

Once the billing cycle begins on my Student Loan(s), how often will I be billed?

Upon expiration of the grace period, your student loan(s) will enter repayment and begin to accrue interest. Your loan(s) will initially be billed monthly. If you prefer a quarterly repayment plan, contact the Student Financial Services at http://www.sfs.psu.edu/.

When will I be billed?

A bill will be sent out approximately ten days prior to each due date.

How can I make a payment on my student loan(s)?

To make a payment please go to our partner's (ECSI) system at https://heartland.ecsi.net and log into the web-site as follows:

  • Click on the “Sign In or Register” button at the top of the page and enter your EasyPath Profile username and password.
  • If you do not have an EasyPath Profile username or password, complete the registration process and your Heartland Key (located on prior correspondence such as a billing statement) to connect to the account to your profile.
  • If you have not received your Heartland Key through prior correspondence, you should contact Heartland ECSI Customer Service at https://heartland.ecsi.net/index.main.html#/contactus or call 1-888-549-3274.
  • Once connected, you will be redirected to your account.
  • Click on “Account Tools”.
  • Available information will include but not limited to making one time or automatic online payments.

If you prefer not to pay online, our office accepts various forms of payment which include personal checks, bank checks, certified checks, and money orders.

If I do not pay online, where do I mail my student loan payments?

Checks and money orders should be made payable to Penn State. Include the appropriate portion of your billing statement with your check and remit to the following address:

The Pennsylvania State University
108 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802-1222

What is a grace period?

A payment-free period during which no principal or interest accrues.

What happens to the payment I make?

Your loan is from a revolving fund, which means that as you repay your loan(s), Penn State is able to lend funds to other students.

Will I be charged any penalties if I prepay my loan(s)?

NO. You may prepay your loan(s) without being charged penalty fees.

If I change my name and/or address and notify another department within the University, do I need to contact Student Financial Services?

YES. It is your responsibility to notify Student Financial Services if you change your name, address and/or telephone number. Regardless of other departments within the University that you may notify, you must also notify this office.

What is a deferment?

A deferment is a payment-free period during which principal and interest do not accrue. Deferment information, forms and instructions are located on the Student Financial Services at http://www.sfs.psu.edu/.

If I plan on continuing my education at another University next semester, do I need to contact Student Financial Services at Penn State?

YES. You must complete exit counseling with Student Financial Services during your last semester of enrollment at Penn State as at least a half-time student. To defer your loan payment(s) while enrolled at another institution, login to http://www.sfs.psu.edu/. Deferment information, forms and instructions will guide you through the deferment process.

What is loan consolidation? Who should I contact if I want to consolidate my student loans?

A loan consolidation combines your federally funded student loans into a single loan. The new loan reduces your number of payments to worry about each month while also reducing your payment amount with a longer repayment period. Further information concerning consolidations is provided on http://www.sfs.psu.edu/.

If you are interested in loan consolidation, contact your Federal Direct Loan Servicer to see if you are eligible for consolidation. Additional information concerning student loan consolidations and the application process is provided at the Federal Direct Consolidation Loans Information Center or by telephone at 1-800-557-7392.

What might happen to me if I do not make payments on time?

The following actions may occur on a loan in default;

  • Assessment of a $5.00 per month fee.
  • Placement of a hold on your academic records that will cause transcripts to be withheld and future registration denied.
  • Delinquency reported to a national credit bureau. Credit ratings remain on the Credit Bureau records for approximately seven years following the date of first delinquency. Delinquencies may affect your ability to obtain future loans and employment.
  • Ineligibility for future Title IV financial aid until the loan is out of default.
  • Placement of the loan with a licensed collection agency. Collection fees charged by the agency can be up to 30% of your loan balance if placed with a collection agency for the first time or 40% for subsequent collection efforts and/or litigation.

If I have questions regarding my billing statement, or if I have questions regarding Federal Perkins/ University/Primary Care student loan(s) I received from Penn State, whom do I contact?

Please contact Student Financial Services at http://www.sfs.psu.edu/ or call 814-865-0461, option 3.

Scholarships

What is the difference between a University Scholarship and an Outside Scholarship?

The recipient of a University Scholarship is selected by Penn State.

An Outside Scholarship is a scholarship that is awarded by an organization not affiliated with Penn State (i.e. professional organizations, clubs, high schools, etc.) and the awarding organization selects the recipient.

Who is eligible for Outside Scholarships?

Outside scholarships are available to students who are willing to take the time to look for them. Outside scholarships are awarded for many different reasons. The qualifications may be a specific major, a geographical area, or a special talent.

There are many sources for outside scholarships. The Office of Student Aid provides a starting point: http://studentaid.psu.edu/types-of-aid/scholarships.

Most application deadlines are in the spring, so it is best to begin searching for a scholarship(s) in December, January or February, before the upcoming academic year. Scholarships awarded in the spring (March through June) are for the upcoming school year.

What should a student do once they are notified they will be receiving a scholarship?

Please mail or fax a copy of the award letter to:

Student Financial Services
Attn: Outside Scholarships
108 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802
Fax: 814-865-6535

It is suggested that the award letter include the scholarship name, award amount, time period of award (i.e. fall semester, spring semester, academic year, etc.), any enrollment requirements (i.e. full-time or degree seeking), student’s name and Penn State ID number.

Any information missing from the award letter may be added by the student.

Why hasn’t my scholarship been disbursed?

Students must keep in mind that each organization handles their scholarships differently, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Scholarship funds are disbursed into students' accounts when the funds are received.
  • If the student is given the money directly, University Park students should take the check to the Office of the Bursar, 103 Shields Building.
  • Students attending another Penn State location should take the scholarship check to the Business or Finance Office at their campus.
  • If the check is mailed directly to Penn State and is made payable only to Penn State, the money will be disbursed into the student's account.
  • If the check is made payable to both Penn State and the student, the student will be notified by e-mail go to the Bursar/Finance Office to endorse the check. Once the check has been endorsed, the funds will be disbursed into the student's account.

How long will it take for the scholarship to be disbursed into the student's account?

Funds are disbursed at the beginning of the enrollment period or approximately three to five working days after they are received, whichever is later. Keep in mind that a student must be registered and in compliance with all regulations associated with the scholarship before disbursement will occur.

Will a scholarship affect my Financial Aid package?

If the student also receives Federal or State Financial Aid, the University will determine if the student's total aid package falls within the ranges specified by Federal and State Regulations.

If the student's total aid is not within the mandated range, the Federal and/or State aid will be reduced accordingly.

To what semester(s) will the scholarship be applied?

Awards will be applied to the current semester unless otherwise specified by the scholarship sponsor.