Financial aid deadlines draw near

Published 10:06 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2011

By Patsy Joyner

PDCCC Financial Aid Coordinator, Teresa Harrison, reports good news: Summer semester awarding is under way, but there is still time to file a 2010-11 Free Application for Federal Student Aid by the April 23 priority filing date using 2009 federal taxes.

Laid-off employees/family

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For students who are laid off employees/spouses, a new program is available to help pay for tuition, fees, and books, the On Ramp Grant. This grant is available to dislocated workers who are unemployed or underemployed and for their spouses who must re-enter the workplace.

Most IP employees are covered under the Trade Act, and both Pell and Trade Act grants can be received during the same semester. Some laid-off employees may think they are ineligible for a Pell Grant due to their earnings.

While 1040 taxes as filed must be used to complete the FAFSA, students affected by a layoff are encouraged to file an Appeal for Unusual Circumstances to see if the loss of income results in Pell Grant eligibility. These students should also apply for the On Ramp Grant. Call the On Ramp office at 569-6754 or 757-925-6307 by April 15 for further information.

Following are more tips from Harrison.

Federal financial aid

For fall semester, beginning Aug. 22, Harrison advises eligible students to complete the 2011-12 FAFSA by the priority filing deadline, June 1. The earlier students apply, the better the financial aid offer they are likely to get.

The financial aid office has some smaller pots of money that deplete quickly and rewards eligible “early- bird” applicants by awarding them those extra funds.

Scholarships for graduating high school seniors are now available online at and at local high school guidance counseling offices. The due date is April 11. Scholarship applications for all fall students will be available on the website April 8. Application materials are also available at the college financial aid offices in Franklin and Suffolk.

The FAFSA is submitted once a year to the Department of Education electronically, at A computer is available in the financial aid offices in Franklin and Suffolk, if filing help is needed. No appointment is necessary; students just need to bring tax information between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday—allowing at least 30 minutes for the application process.

Students filing a FAFSA on their own should make sure to use the right website. Many financial aid/ scholarship scams exist, including ones that ask applicants to pay for filing the FAFSA online. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The official website is, NOT .com.

Before starting, each student applicant should obtain a Personal Identification Number at 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. The PIN is the applicant’s electronic signature. By law, no one can apply for or use another person’s federal aid PIN number; it is the same as signing his/her name.

Required information for applying includes the applicant’s PIN number; a copy of the applicant’s 2010 federal taxes; a copy of the spouse’s federal taxes (if applicable); a copy of the parents’ federal taxes (if applicable); copies of W-2 form(s), if someone worked but did not file taxes; Social Security numbers; the driver’s license; and school codes. Untaxed income, including child support received, worker’s compensation, and Veterans non-education benefits are also required to be reported on the FAFSA, but not TANF or Social Security benefits.

A new feature of the FAFSA this year allows a student to automatically download IRS tax data into the FAFSA. The taxes need to have been on file with the IRS for two weeks in order to be available for this process.

A graduating high school student should also provide a transcript copy to the financial aid office to see if additional aid is available.

For more details on financial aid, call 569-6715 or 925-6346.