University Park, Pa. — Students who expected to receive a Pennsylvania state grant administered through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) will have their Penn State fall semester tuition bills credited for the estimated grant amount.
PHEAA normally issues grants in August, but is dependent on an authorized state appropriation to do so. With no comprehensive state budget to date and the fall semester rapidly approaching, it seems less and less likely that those funds will be available for the start of the academic year.
Last year, nearly 18,000 Penn State students received state grants for an average award of about $2,900. The University expects to advance more than $25 million to students in the form of a credit on the fall semester tuition bill for their state grants.
"This is already a difficult time financially for many of our students and their families," said Anna Griswold, assistant vice president for undergraduate education and executive director of student aid. "It is imperative that the University do whatever is possible to help our students. The logical option is to credit their bills while Penn State waits to receive the disbursements, so that no action is required on the student's part."
Although amounts have not yet been finalized, the maximum state grant award to students for the fall is expected to be $1,885.
The University will rely on the most recent data available from PHEAA for estimates of eligible students and award amounts. Since final data will not be available until a state budget is passed, final awards and eligibility may differ from the estimated amount, in which case tuition bills may be adjusted accordingly for the spring semester.
After the state budget is approved, eligible students will be notified by PHEAA via e-mail about the final amount of their state grant award. In the meantime, other state-related institutions, such as the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University, are following similar action to assist their students this fall while they also wait for the state aid to arrive.
University reserves will be used to cover the grant amounts. The state budget impasse has had multiple effects on institutions such as Penn State, including the lack of available appropriations, uncertain appropriation amounts for 2009-10 and the loss of income from using funds that would otherwise be gaining interest.