When you think of Pennsylvania, do you think of its major towns like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia? Maybe you think of the sports teams in both of those cities in the state? Maybe you think of Philly cheesesteaks? Either way, you should think about the financial aid programs the state provides for its students who want to attend college.

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) helps distribute scholarships, grants and other types of financial aid to eligible students in the state of Pennsylvania.

The PHEAA offers multiple different programs, but some of the major programs include the Pennsylvania State Grant Program, the PATH Program, the Pennsylvania Targeted Industry Program and the Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program.

The Pennsylvania State Grant Program

The Pennsylvania State Grant Program (PSG) is a grant provided by the PHEAA to students based on a financial need-basis. To be eligible to receive funding from the program, a student must:

  • Demonstrate a financial need for funding,
  • Be a Pennsylvania resident,
  • Be a Pennsylvania high school graduate,
  • Attend a PHEAA-approved-for-PSG-funding postsecondary institution,
  • Be enrolled at least as a half-time student (between six to 12 credit hours per semester),
  • Be unconditionally admitted and enrolled in an approved program of study of at least two academic years in length,
  • Have met satisfactory academic progress as defined by PHEAA,
  • Not already have earned a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent,
  • Be of satisfactory character (i.e. not have previously been jailed, etc.),
  • Not have received the maximum amount of PSGs permitted,
  • Not be in default or pending default of an educational loan,
  • Complete and file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and
  • Complete and file your PSG application by its deadline.

Keep in mind, the PSG application can be found in the FAFSA application; a Pennsylvania student needs to just make sure they fill out the State Grant form of the application. Most renewal applications do not need students to fill out the State Grant form again, just the FAFSA itself.

The PSG award amount varies depending on what type of college a student attends, the cost of tuition and fees at that college and their parents’ annual income. For the 2020-2021 academic year, award amounts varied between $500 to $4,525.

PATH Program

The Partnerships for Access to Higher Education Program (PATH Program) can provide qualifying Pennsylvania students with additional funding for college if they have already received a scholarship or grant from an eligible PHEAA and PATH partner. These partners are typically foundations, charities or other organizations of that nature.

To be eligible for the PATH Program, a student must:

  • Be nominated by an eligible PHEAA/PATH partner that has provided the student with a scholarship for the academic year by the end of September,
  • Have received a Pennsylvania State Grant for the semester (or quarter) for which the student has been nominated to receive a PATH grant,
  • Demonstrated a financial need for funding,
  • Be enrolled as (at least) a half-time undergraduate student in an eligible PHEAA-approved-for-PSG-funding postsecondary institution in Pennsylvania,
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress according to the PHEAA, and
  • Complete and file FAFSA.

The PATH Program grant cannot exceed $3,000 within an academic year, but it can clearly still be very helpful to students who need additional grant funding.

Pennsylvania Targeted Industry Program

The Pennsylvania Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP) was created in 2012 by the Pennsylvania General Assembly as a need-based, first-come, first-served award. It is funded by $6.3 million from the General Assembly.

The goal of PA-TIP is to help students foster an interest in high-demand, skilled fields and enroll in degree programs in these fields such as the energy field, the health field, the advanced materials and diversified manufacturing fields, and the agriculture and food production fields.

To be eligible for PA-TIP, a student must:

  • Be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen,
  • Be a Pennsylvania resident,
  • Have earned a high school diploma/GED/equivalent,
  • Complete and file FAFSA,
  • Complete and submit by mail or fax the PA-TIP paper application before the deadline,
  • Be enrolled at an approved PHEAA postsecondary institution,
  • Be enrolled in an approved program of study that is at least ten weeks to two academic years in length,
  • Demonstrate a financial need for funding,
  • Not be in default or pending default of an educational loan or a grant refund,
  • Not be receiving a Pennsylvania State Grant,
  • Be of satisfactory character (i.e. not have previously been jailed, etc.), and
  • Supply a copy of the DD214 form if the applicant is a US Armed Forces veteran and was honorably discharged.

The PA-TIP award can be used to cover a student’s tuition, books, fees, supplies and specific living expenses. Currently, the maximum award can be up to $4,123 or 75% of a student’s total, direct educational costs after gift aid and/or employee aid has been factored in, whichever is less.

Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program

The Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program (RTSS) provides financial assistance to Pennsylvania’s highest academically achieving students. Funding is provided by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, though funding is limited from year to year. The award is also given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

To be eligible for the RTSS, a student must:

  • Demonstrate a financial need for funding,
  • Meet all PSG eligibility requirements (including filing FAFSA and PSG forms),
  • Have completed at least one academic year at a participating college (A.K.A. earned at least 24 credit hours),
  • Demonstrate outstanding academic achievement by earning a minimum cumulative 3.25 GPA at the end of the spring term, and
  • Have an annual family income that does not exceed $110,000.

There is no separate application for RTSS as a student’s participating college nominates the student to become eligible for the award. A student can increase their chances for receiving funding though by ensuring they check their FAFSA for accuracy before filing it each year and contacting their college’s financial aid office to learn more about the RTSS.

The RTSS can put used to cover costs such as tuition, fees, books, supplies and certain living expenses. The minimum award for both full-time students and part-time students is $500. Part-time students can receive a maximum award of up to $1,000. Full-time students can receive a maximum award of up to $2,000.

Major Pennsylvania Colleges and Universities

The Keystone State is home to nearly 250 postsecondary and higher education institutions. Some of the major colleges and universities in Pennsylvania include:

  • Allegheny College in Meadville,
  • Duquesne University in Pittsburgh,
  • Edinboro University in Edinboro,
  • Keystone College in LaPlume,
  • Lock Haven University in Lock Haven,
  • Seton Hill University in Greensburg,
  • Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in Slippery Rock,
  • West Chester University in West Chester, and
  • York College of Pennsylvania in York.

The state of Pennsylvania covers over 46,000 square miles. Within those borders, there are many colleges and universities for Pennsylvania students to choose from and plenty of college financial aid programs for which students can apply.