Renee Huefner, assistant director of the Financial Aid office, answers your financial aid questions.

What is financial aid? Financial aid is really a broad term. It’s used to describe any type of funding that a student can receive to help pay for college. That includes grants, which are typically need-based; scholarships, based on merit or participation; student loans; and student employment.

How do I get it? Mainly, you have to apply. The main application is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal government uses this form to determine grants and scholarships, most state agencies use it to determine state grant eligibility and most schools use this application to determine their institutional aid. There may be additional applications for student loans and work-study, but the FAFSA is the main form that needs to be on file to determine all eligibility.

How will living out of state affect my financial aid? At Gannon, it doesn’t affect any institutional or federal aid. The only thing it could affect is state grant eligibility. A student from another state may not be eligible for a state grant from Pennsylvania, but their state may offer aid if there is a reciprocating agreement between the state and the school.

What Web sites can I check out for more help with financial aid? You can look at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/, the federal government’s financial aid Web site; http://www.pheaa.org/, the state’s financial aid Web site; or http://www.finaid.org/ for general information and scholarship databases.

Also check out Gannon’s list of helpful financial aid links by clicking here.

Where can I find information on the scholarships and grants that Gannon offers? The financial aid section of Gannon’s Web site lists all the scholarships and grants offered by Gannon. They also have a list other financial aid opportunities.

What are some financial aid tips you can offer to students? File the FAFSA form by the school’s deadline (Gannon’s deadline is March 15), contact the Financial Aid offices of all the schools you’re looking at, and look for outside scholarships. Many students don’t apply for outside scholarships because they don’t want to write the essay, but writing the essay may pay off.

Do you have any other tips for prospective or new college students? Students really need to look at what their education costs are going to be and find ways to reduce those costs. Sometimes this doesn’t mean finding more financial aid, but instead it may mean not bringing your car to school if you’re going to live on a campus where you won’t need a car.

It’s better to be a poor college student saving up money for four years than it is to be a poor college graduate paying off debt for 10 years.

For more information about financial aid, check out Gannon’s financial aid Web site, or click here for a schedule of Gannon’s financial aid workshops.

Still have more questions for Gannon faculty and staff? Check out other items in our Q&A series, like Admissions 101 with Miles Vida or Q&A: Campus Security.

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