March 3, 2006
If you thought applying for college could be scary, just wait until you get to the financial aid application.

"Fear is one most influential factors in applying for financial aid," says Rob Ritz, HACC director of financial aid. "We enjoy providing good, free information to families. It is important to be informed. This takes the fear out of the process."

HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, offers a way of making the financial aid process more understandable with a Financial Aid Night, How to Pay for College workshop on Tuesday, March 14, 6-7:30 p.m. at each of HACC's campuses in Harrisburg, Gettysburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and the center in York.

At the Harrisburg Campus of HACC, the workshop will be held in the Wildwood Conference Center, room 160-162. Workshop location at the Lancaster Campus of HACC is room 227 in the Main Building. At HACC's Lebanon Campus, the workshop will be held in the main lobby.

At the Gettysburg Campus, workshop location is the Community Room, room 109. At the York Center, participants may use the back entrance to reach room 119.

The free workshops to educate students and their families on the financial aid process are open to anyone concerned about meeting the costs of post-secondary education. They are not limited to those attending HACC.

Workshops are not specific to financial aid at HACC but are informational sessions on financial aid in general for high school seniors, their parents, high school guidance counselors, and homeschoolers.

The workshops also are helpful to students considering the College in the High School program which allows qualified high school students to obtain college credits for HACC-approved courses completed at their high schools.

Presenters will discuss all sources and types of financial aid including grants, scholarships, work programs and student loans, as well as the differences in specific packages such as grants, loans and Pell grants. Information about scholarships available at specific institutions will be shared.

Discussion will include tips on filling out and avoiding common errors made on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the application required for all those applying for financial aid.

Families are encouraged to bring their most recent Federal Tax Returns, W-2s and documentation for untaxed income.

Professionals will be available to answer any questions regarding the financial aid process, as well as individual concerns.

Many families don't realize that even those with higher household incomes still may be eligible for benefits such as low interest loan programs or loans that don't have to be repaid until after graduation.

Another way to ease the tuition burden is for students to earn an associate degree at HACC and then transfer to a four-year school. They also can take summer classes at HACC to save money and avoid the "five-year plan" which is becoming more common among students who may not be able to complete their planned studies in four years.

HACC is fully accredited, and its credits transfer to colleges nationally. HACC currently has 40 formal transfer agreements, as well as dual admission programs which allow students to enroll at HACC and a variety of four-year schools simultaneously.

Financial aid is available to those who qualify. Information about the financial aid workshops may be obtained by calling 717-780-2330 or toll free at 1-800-222-4222, ext. 2330.

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