Getting a college education is one of the most important investments you'll make. But with the increasingly high costs of tuition figuring out how to pay for your education can be discouraging.
Along with aid from the U.S. federal government, you'll want to check out the variety of grant and loan repayment programs available from the state of Pennsylvania, and awarded through the schools.
These state-provided grants and financial aid programs are available through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistant Agency (PHEAA).
Pennsylvania State Grants
A variety of state grants allow Pennsylvania residents to receive assistance to attend PHEAA-approved institutions, including public schools, private 4-year colleges, nursing schols, and technical, trade, or business schools.
The PHEAA offers the Pennsylvania State Grant to students in Pennsylvania who have financial need (as determined in the FAFSA).
Other special state grants include:
- Aid for Veterans and National Guard Members
These grants are geared toward members of any branch of the U.S. military and their families. They include grants for veterans, children of soldiers declared POW/MIA and more.
- New Economy Technology Scholarships
These scholarships are targeted to students who are pursuing degrees in science, technology, or allied health, and who agree to work in Pennsylvania for a certain number of years after graduation Unlike other areas of state financial aid, these are not awarded based on financial need.
- Partnerships for Access to Higher Education (PATH)
This grant awards up to $2,500 a year for students who already receive a Pennsylvania State Grant and who are enrolled at least part-time in a PHEAA-approved school.
- Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant (ETG) Program
This is a federally-funded program administered by the PHEAA to help students who are aging out of foster care. Maximum awards under this program are $4,000 per academic year.
- Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program
This is awarded to children of Pennsylvania police officers, firefighters, rescue workers, National Guard members, or corrections employees who died in the line of duty after January 1, 1976. The money can be used only toward public schools, and only after all other grants (federal, local, and scholarships) have been used.
- Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program
This is a federal scholarship administered by the PHEAA to students who rank in the top 5 percent of their graduating class, have a GPA of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale, and scored 1150 or higher on the SAT, 25 or higher on the ACT, or 3550 or higher on the GED.
The state-sponsored program provides you with employment in technology and community-service fields while you're in school.
You'll gain on-the-job experience while earning money to help pay for college. Students work part-time, no more than 20 hours per week (up to 40 hours per week in the summer).
All students should apply for the above aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), more commonly known as the FAFSA. Most schools have their own financial aid applications in addition to the FAFSA. It's a good idea to check with a school's financial aid department about specific procedures and deadlines, as they vary.