LOCK HAVEN, Pa. - For two years, Lock Haven University’s Student Financial Services (SFS) has been conducting workshops at local high schools for any student who is interested in getting help in filing a Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). FAFSA is the application that a student submits yearly to apply for all financial aid, both federal and state. SFS has conducted these workshops at no cost to the school and the service is available to any student regardless of his/her intent to attend LHU. Lock Haven University is a member of the Pennsylvania State
System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the largest provider of higher education in
the commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 250 degree and certificate
programs in more than 120 areas of study. Nearly 405,000 system alumni live and
work in Pennsylvania.
“These FAFSA filing nights are for students who are enrolling in college for the next academic year. We do not care where they are going; the point is that we are there to help them over the hurdle of filing the form,” said SFS Director Dr. James Theeuwes.
Unlike a traditional college financial aid night, SFS actually assists families in preparation of the FAFSA form online. Students are requested to bring in their taxes along with their parents to file the FAFSA. “This gives the families an opportunity to ask questions while they file the FAFSA. It gives some of them ‘peace of mind’ during the process,” Theeuwes added. As of the end of February, SFS had assisted almost 90 families in submitting their 2010-11 FAFSAs.
Gary Heverly, school counselor at Bald Eagle Area H.S., agreed with Theeuwes. “All of the feedback from the parents was very positive,” he said. “Most came in with a little anxiety, but left feeling very satisfied and happy that a major task was off of their plates. I thought the workshop was well worth the time and effort put into coordinating it. Hopefully we can continue offering this in the future.”
In 2008 SFS offered to do a FAFSA completion night for Dual Enrollment partners at their schools. In 2008, four high schools participated. The schedule for this year included eight high schools: Bald Eagle Area, Central Mountain, Williamsport, Hughesville, Bucktail, South Williamsport, Montgomery Area and Montoursville. All of these high schools have Dual Enrollment programs with LHU. These agreements allow their students to take courses at LHU that will be used toward high school graduation. The courses are delivered by LHU at a reduced tuition. Lock Haven University currently has Dual Enrollment Agreements with 18 high schools.
Phyllis Sieber, counselor at Williamsport Area High School, stated, “This is the second year that the Williamsport Area High School has offered the FAFSA Workshop sponsored by the Lock Haven University Financial Aid Office. Both years have offered a wonderful experience for those families in attendance. The LHU staff are extremely knowledgeable about all of the financial ‘ins and outs’ and offer solid advice that has allowed every family to complete the form while at the workshop. We hope that LHU will continue to offer this service next year.”
Theeuwes had high praise for SFS staff. “My staff is very comfortable going out into the high schools to offer this service. We make every attempt to answer all questions. The important point is that we are giving families the opportunity to get help which they might never be able to receive from the school of their choice.”
These sentiments were echoed by counselor Elizabeth Hoopes of Central Mountain High School. “Central Mountain High School was pleased to have Lock Haven University provide a financial aid workshop for their students and parents,” she said. Hoopes added, “Financial Aid is a complicated process, even with all the user friendly aspects of the on-line application process.”
Theeuwes and his staff plan to continue providing FAFSA workshops in the future.