State grant funding available to Penn State students taking online courses

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State students who enroll in online courses will be eligible for the Pennsylvania State Grant Program next year after lawmakers made permanent a pilot need-based funding program that was set to expire.

State lawmakers approved the pilot program for distance learners starting in 2013-14. The program expanded eligibility requirements for funding through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) to include online learners, who previously could not receive financial aid if they took more than half their credits online.

The pilot program was set to expire in June.

The effort to make the pilot program permanent was initiated by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf and Rep. Thomas Quigley, both from Montgomery County.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation making the new Pennsylvania State Grant eligibility requirements effective starting in the 2018-19 academic year.

“As Pennsylvania’s only land-grant institution, Penn State’s mission of teaching, research and service to the state is rooted in our ability to provide a world-class education in an affordable and accessible manner,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “We have been deeply appreciative of the pilot program’s support for distance learners, and we appreciate the state’s commitment to making this source of financial aid permanent.”

To be eligible, students must be Pennsylvania residents, enroll in a minimum of six credits per semester in a degree program and meet other state grant requirements. The deadline to apply for the Pennsylvania State Grant Program through PHEAA for 2018-19 is May 1.

Under the pilot program in Penn State’s fall 2017 semester, there were 1,135 eligible students taking at least 50 percent of their coursework online. They received a total of $2.7 million in aid.

Full-time students, or those who took 12 or more credits, received $1,975 for the semester. Part-time students, or those who took between six and 11 credits, received $987 for the semester.

“We recognize the importance of financial aid to Pennsylvania students pursuing their degrees online through Penn State because they may have obligations that make it difficult to relocate even temporarily to attend a physical campus,” said Renata Engel, interim vice provost for online education at Penn State, which includes Penn State World Campus. “Whether it is a single parent who hopes to be a role model for her children, a military veteran who started a college degree while serving our country, or a person who serves as the primary caregiver of aging parents, these learners have our commitment to providing a path to educational experiences that can make a difference in their lives. With the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s support, many Pennsylvanians who choose to attain their college education online can receive the financial help they need to be successful.”

Media Contacts: 

Mike Dawson

Work Phone: 
814-865-5818

408 The 329 Building, University Park, PA 16802

Last Updated February 19, 2018