What’s a PHEAA? Who is FASFA? If the letters alone have you dizzy, just wait until that first college bill arrives. If you do, it is likely too late. A child’s junior or senior year of high school is a better time to educate one’s self about financial aid.

The good news is the federal government, the state of Pennsylvania, and private institutions are all vying to help you fund your child’s college experience. The types of federal aid are discussed here in this video:


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The Federal Student Aid offices, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, offers up $150 billion in grants, loans and work-study funds for tuition, room and board, and supplies.

But it doesn’t stop there. Understanding the differences between borrowing money and “free” money can make or break a student’s financial future.

Grants are funds that do not need to be repaid. A federal student loan is borrowed money that has to be repaid with interest. Federal loans often have lower fixed income rates for students aiming at higher education. Payback plans can be worked out with the federal loan, including forgiveness programs or those requiring payment based on income.

If you are still confused, don’t worry. There is help out there for Lower Providence Township residents. Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) Financial Aid Office will host two workshops in July to help high school juniors and seniors and their parents understand the financial aid process.

“The workshops are free of charge and are open to the public,” said Alana J. Mauger, director of communications for MCCC.

Workshops will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9 in Advanced Technology Center, Room 101, located at MCCC’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, and on Wednesday, July 16 in the South Hall Community Room at the West Campus, 101 College Drive, in Pottstown.

Students and parents alike are invited to attend to unscramble the Alphabet Soup and confusion that surrounds the process of obtaining aid in order to further one’s education.

“Both workshops will feature an expert panel discussion by representatives from a variety of local colleges and universities,” said Mauger. “Attendees will learn about the different types of financial aid available, how parents and students can meet the cost of attending college, how to interpret award letters, and much more.”

In addition to discussions aimed at educating attendees, the workshops will include “ample time for Q & A,” according to Mauger.

The workshops are free of cost. Pre-registration is appreciated, however. Register online at this MCCC website link.