– The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), in partnership with the Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PASFAA), is offering free FAFSA completion sessions throughout the commonwealth through April. The sessions are designed to educate families about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, with access to individual guidance from PHEAA’s Higher Education Access Partners and college financial aid administrators. The FAFSA is the federal form that all families must submit to determine eligibility for almost all forms of need-based financial assistance, including the Pennsylvania State Grant, the Federal Pell Grant, work-study programs, the Pennsylvania Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP), many scholarships and some school-based aid, and federal student loans. Students should check with each school they are considering attending to determine the deadline date by which the FAFSA should be filed for that school. A schedule of FAFSA completion sessions is available at PHEAA.org under College Planning – FAFSA. “The FAFSA is the most important application that students and families need to complete to be considered for most forms of student financial aid,” said Representative William Adolph, PHEAA board chairman. “Anyone completing this application, especially those going through the process for the first time, can get the information that they need, specific to their individual circumstances, at one of PHEAA’s FAFSA completion sessions.” To further assist families, PHEAA recently launched MySmartBorrowing. This free online resource engages students and families to help them consider the many decisions that are necessary for their higher education success plan while avoiding the pitfalls of unnecessary student loan debt. MySmartBorrowing provides easy-to-use estimators that assist users in determining their possible higher education costs at different schools, future salary expectations for a particular career, availability of related employment opportunities, and their potential ability to repay student loans comfortably while also affording an independent lifestyle after graduation. MySmartBorrowing is available through EducationPlanner.org or directly at MySmartBorrowing.org. “Families should know that there is free help available to them when they begin the financial aid application process,” said Senator Wayne D. Fontana, PHEAA board vice chairman. “Being aware of their many financial options and having access to PHEAA’s hands-on assistance helps ensure that deadlines are met while making the cost of higher education more manageable.” PHEAA has partnered with PASFAA since 2005 to help Pennsylvania families apply for student aid through hands-on FAFSA completion sessions. "PASFAA’s network of dedicated financial aid administrators, each bringing their own special expertise, is able to provide personal assistance to students and families,” said Cheryl DePaolis, president of PASFAA. “By reaching out to families in their own communities, these professionals help ensure that students get the assistance they need to apply for financial aid." For information on the higher education financial aid process, schedules for upcoming FAFSA Completion Sessions, reminders of financial aid deadlines, and information pertaining to planning for higher education, students can join PHEAA on Facebook at Facebook.com/pheaa.aid.