Financial Aid

Financial Aid is available from both the federal and state governments and may be supplemented by colleges or universities that have the resources to do so. There are also many private need- and merit- based scholarships available.

There is a risk in trying to simplify a complex subject like financial aid, so I won’t do that.  Instead, I will give you information to help you along the way with the process of obtaining financial aid.

While most scholarships are need-based, some scholarships are merit-based.  Colleges use merit-based scholarships to attract students with particular talents.  Need based scholarships are for students who have demonstrated financial need.

It is important for a student applying for financial aid to ask the following questions:

  • What forms does the institution require?
  • Does the school require that a specific institutional form be completed?
  • What are the filing deadlines for each form required?

FAFSA
Families are required to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), to demonstrate need and establish eligibility for aid.  All two and four year colleges, public and private require the FAFSA.  The FAFSA is also required for families applying for some of the federal loan programs. www.fafsa.ed.gov

The FAFSA is available on the web. Both the student and the parent need a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to electronically sign the FAFSA.  Having a PIN enables the student or the parent(s) to access their application at any time. Students and parents need separate PINs.  You can apply for a PIN today by visiting www.pin.ed.gov Please refer to the website with instructions on how to apply for a PIN number.


Cal Grant (GPA Verification Form)

The California Student Aid Commission uses the information provided on the FAFSA and the Cal Grant GPA Verification Form. The GPA form is available on the web at www.csac.ca.gov. I will complete the GPA section of the form for those students planning on attending a college or university in California and interested in applying for state funding.  We don’t upload GPA verification online.  Students must bring in the form for me to sign in the College and Career Center, than I will give it back to them to mail it to the State office. Please do not leave forms for me to mail. I will not mail GPA verification forms. 

CSS/Financial Aid Profile
Many private colleges and universities use the information collected from a form called the CSS/Financial Aid Profile in addition to the FAFSA.  Follow the directions colleges send with their application materials to be certain you meet their specific requirements and due dates. The PROFILE can be completed online or in paper form.  There is a registration fee for customizing the Profile Application.  There is a charge for each school or program to which information is sent. PROFILE registration guides are available on the website www.collegeboard.com, then find the Pay for College and click on CSS/Profile.

Important Dates
January 1, FAFSA is available on the web
January 2, application processing system starts up
March 2, California Grant application deadline
Check with each college or university about that institution’s form deadline.

Scholarships
A scholarship listing is compiled and updated weekly to assist students and their parents who are looking for scholarships. Be sure to check your Family Connection account with Naviance for the available scholarships. All scholarship information that crosses Mr Lang's desk is entered in Family Connection. Every Gunn student and parent has access to Family Connection - please see or email Mr Lang if you need help accessing it.

Scholarship applications are filed by due date in the file cabinet next to my desk in the College and Career Center.

There are several community and school scholarships whose sponsors have asked the Gunn Scholarship Committee to nominate and /or select students to receive the awards. Because the Scholarship Committee doesn’t know students' needs, students who wish to be considered for need-based or merit awards need to review the scholarship list in their Family Connection Account or visit the College and Career Center. Let me know if you would like to be nominated for a scholarship; it won't happen otherwise.

Students interested in applying for the Gunn Foundation Scholarship must complete a Gunn Community Scholarship Application, available on Family Connection and on the Gunn Foundation page. Filling out this application is essential if you wish to be considered.  The deadline for the application is March 6, 2012.

The Gunn Community Scholarship Application form is also available on the College & Career Center’s web page, Family Connection, and copies are available at the CCC. The financial information required on this application will, of course, be kept confidential.  We also recommend that students let their counselors or me know that they are looking for scholarships.  In this way, we are able to alert those students of special scholarship opportunities.

Many of you may be receiving mail solicitations from scholarship services.  In the past these services have not been worthwhile and are not recommended.  If you have questions about the validity of a scholarship or a Financial Aid program you can call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 or visit their web site: www.ftc.gov. Most of the information they offer can be found on scholarship search programs on the Internet.  A good web-based search engine for scholarships is www.fastweb.com.

Financial Aid Presentations and Workshops
There are two Financial Aid Presentations each year, between Gunn and Foothill College. Keep an eye on the CCC calendar for upcoming sessions of “Cash For College Workshop" at Foothill College and Gunn's Financial Aid Workshop. These workshops provide free, professional, hands-on assistance with completing the financial aid application forms.

Financial Aid Materials
Applying for Financial Aid can be time consuming and at times confusing.  Please call me if you have any questions at (650) 354-8219 or email at llang@pausd.org.  My work schedule is Monday through Friday 7:30 am to 2:30pm.

Sincerely,
Leighton W. Lang
llang@pausd.org
College & Career Information Specialist