Five College Grants Provided by the State of Pennsylvania

Grants are provided to undergraduate and graduate students to offset tuition and fee costs. Any remaining grants used for expenses outside academic purpose must be reported as taxable income on IRS tax forms. Fortunately, students do not need to pay back money to most grant providers except for the federal TEACH grant.

In Pennsylvania, the state offers numerous grants to students attending post-secondary institutions, which provides them with additional funding options outside of the more well known federal grants.

Pennsylvania State Grants for SchoolTo qualify for federal and state grants and other types of financial aid, students need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (or FAFSA form), which documents income.

Additionally, financial aid offices request supplemental information, such as copies of recent tax forms from students. Also, every school has its own financial aid application. Generally, most grants are provided to students with strong financial need.

The state of Pennsylvania offers five grant programs to students attending postsecondary institutions. However, most of the grants are available to undergraduate students undertaking study to achieve an associates or bachelors degree. Thus, grants for graduate students are hardly existent in the state of Pennsylvania due to budget cuts.

Pennsylvania State Grant

For this grant, students need to submit a FAFSA form every year while attending school at least half-time, which is equivalent to six credits per semester.

A state grant form is required for the first year only.

The most important requirements are the following:

  • Financial need.
  • Be a high school graduate and Pennsylvania resident.
  • Attending a postsecondary program approved by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).
  • A minimum of two years school program.
  • Maintain a certain level of academic performance.
  • Not be in prison.
  • Attaining your first bachelors degree.

Some other requirements include not exceeding maximum allowable amount for approved program, not be in default for a loan, and 50% of program being applied for must be taught through classroom instruction. Furthermore, students need to do 50% of the work in the classroom. However, students with medical disabilities are exempt from the 50% classroom instruction rule by submitting the proper accommodation form.

The state also provides this grant to students for summer programs too, however, the summer grant counts toward the maximum allowable for the approved program, such as a community college or four-year institution. Additionally, the Pennsylvania State Grant is available to students attending state grant-approved nursing, business, trade or technical schools. Generally, grant amount is lower for students with high income-earning parents.

For example, based on PHEAA’s 2011 data, a student with parents earning $75,000 to $99,999 can receive up to $2,000 at a state school compared to another with parents earning under $25,000 receiving up to $3,700. At a four-year private school, an under-$25,000 student can receive up to $4,348, while a $75,000-to-$99,999 student can receive up to $2,950.

Students have a significantly lower amount if attending an out-of-state institution. Additionally, if a student meets an academic program’s eligibility as a U.S. Armed Forces veteran, they can receive up to $800 for an out-of-state school.

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PATH Program

Students are able to receive this grant through participating partners. This grant is awarded to students who have been awarded a grant or scholarship by Partnerships for Access to Higher Education partners. Also, to be eligible, students must have received the Pennsylvania State Grant for the academic term they have been nominated to receive a PATH grant. Additionally, a student must demonstrate financial need. Lastly, students must be enrolled in school at least half-time and maintain satisfactory academic progress. The grant cannot exceed $2,500 per year.

Submission of the FAFSA form is required.

Blind or Deaf Beneficiary Grant Program

Pennsylvania offers grants to students with visual and/or hearing impairment to attend postsecondary programs. Besides demonstrating financial need and submitting the FAFSA form, students must be Pennsylvania residents and either submit proof that they have been evaluated and eligible to receive benefits from the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation or provide documentation from their physician regarding their visual and/or hearing impairment.

Students need to make satisfactory academic progress and be enrolled in school at least half-time to maintain the grant. Eligible students are awarded up to $500 per year for which the grant can replace a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) but cannot exceed the cost of attendance. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant Program

The state of Pennsylvania offers grants specifically for student who are foster children. Importantly, students must be Pennsylvania residents, eligible for services under Pennsylvania’s John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program and not be in default on federal student loans.

Eligible students can be either foster children or discharged or adopted from foster care after the age of 16. For this grant, there is a service requirement for the Chafee Program from ages 21 to 23.

A student’s chosen academic institution (whether a college or career school), must be approved by the U.S. Department of Education for Title IV student assistance programs. Additionally, students must meet satisfactory academic progress based on institutional definitions and be enrolled in school half-time. Lastly, students must demonstrate financial need.

The maximum amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid a student receives. Also, the grant is not guaranteed and based on available federal funding. To apply, students must submit the Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant Program Application form and the FAFSA.

Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program

In honor of those who died while performing official duties, Pennsylvania offers grants for children of deceased firefighters, police officers, active military, National Guard, sheriffs and rescue or ambulance staff. This grant is specifically for those who who wish to attend public undergraduate programs, such as community colleges and state schools.

To be eligible, students must provide documentation that they are either a child (either adopted or biological) of…

  •  A person who died in service after January 1, 1976 (for members of rescue or ambulance services, police and firefighting)
  •  A person who died in service after September 11, 2001, for members of active duty military, National Guard, sheriffs and deputy sheriffs.

Also, a student must be under 25 years of age, be a Pennsylvania resident and enrolled in a state-funded institution. To apply, a student must submit the Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program waiver and FAFSA forms. The waiver only applies to tuition, fees and on-campus room and board costs.

For more information on Pennsylvania state grants, students can visit the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency’s Web site at Individual schools’ financial aid office Web sites also provide similar information and links to federal and other state aid.