PA Forward: Helping Your Patrons Finance Higher Education | Compendium
Ashley Flynn

Ashley Flynn, Library Director at Highland Community Library. Currently Reading: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern


Ashley Flynn,

Paying for higher education can be a real struggle. For students and their families, the financial ramifications of a college education can present an overwhelming obstacle. Libraries of all types can form a free partnership to help present information to students about how to borrow money, find scholarship opportunities, and much more. Such programs not only promote financial literacy, but can pave the way for a better future for participants.

I’ve partnered with PHEAA to present free workshops in our library that address a variety of financial concerns for those pursuing higher education. Our most recent program was a free FAFSA event. During a two hour window, members of the community were invited to fill out the FAFSA with the help of a PHEAA representative using the library computers. We even allowed them to print the necessary documentation for free. In this way, we enabled them to take control of their financial future by giving them hands-on access to the form and expert guidance.

We have also done weekend forums with PHEAA representatives in the past, covering topics such as how to find and receive scholarships. This is another important component of financial literacy as we provided our patrons with the information they need to make smart decisions.

The very best thing about offering this kind of program at your library is that it costs you nothing and takes very little time to set up. Simply contact the PHEAA representative for your area to open a dialogue. You can find out which program they recommend for a particular time of year and work to schedule something that will suit your population. They even send you promotional materials and handouts at no cost! It couldn’t be easier to provide timely, quality financial literacy programs to your community. Visit to find your representative.

This type of program lends itself very well to a public library, but can be adapted to high schools or academic libraries as well. Even students who have already done the FAFSA can benefit from guidance, especially as the form has changed recently.  Depending on the unique needs of your population, you can tailor a program that will help your participants take control of their financial future as they pursue their dreams of higher education.