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Pennsylvania scholarships, student loans and grants
Though limited, there are three programs that may be able to help.
Pennsylvania has one of the highest average student debt rates in the country — most graduates leave school with over $35,000 in student loans. This is largely because the state doesn’t offer many scholarship or grant opportunities to residents. And those it does offer are largely based on financial need.
Top Pennsylvania college scholarships
If you’re a resident of Pennsylvania, you may be eligible for its single merit- and need-based scholarship opportunity.
Ready to Succeed Scholarship
The Ready to Succeed Scholarship (RTSS) offers high-achieving students up to $2,000 per year, though you need to attend college for at least a year before you qualify. There’s no application — your school nominates you and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) evaluates your eligibility.
Top Pennsylvania grants for school
Pennsylvania only has two general grant programs — here’s how they break down:
Pennsylvania State Grant Program
The Pennsylvania State Grant provides free financial assistance to residents of Pennsylvania facing financial hardship. The state also has a Summer State Grant Program for students enrolled in eligible summer courses. While there are no strict income limits, students whose parents make more than $100,000 likely won’t qualify.
Pennsylvania Targeted Industry Program
The Pennsylvania Targeted Industry Program (PA-TIP) is designed to encourage students to pursue training in skills that are in high demand by employers. It’s available to high school students as well as those who’ve already received a bachelor’s or graduate degree. Funds can be used for your entire cost of attendance, as opposed to just tuition and fees.
To apply, you need to fill out both the FAFSA and the PA-TIP application, which can be found on the PHEAA website.
Other Pennsylvania grants
On top of its two general grants, the state of Pennsylvania also offers a few opportunities geared toward specific groups.
- Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program (PEGP). Children of Pennsylvania service members who died in the line of duty may be eligible for a waiver that covers 100% of the cost of tuition, fees and on-campus room and board at a public postsecondary institution.
- Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant Program. If you aged out of the Pennsylvania foster care system, you may qualify for up to $5,000 per year to put toward your undergraduate degree at a federal Title IV school.
- Blind or Deaf Higher Education Beneficiary Grant Program. Blind and deaf students from Pennsylvania may be eligible for up to $500 per year to offset the cost of an undergraduate program.
- Children of POW/MIA Soldiers Grant. If you’re the child of a parent who was designated a prisoner of war (POW) or deemed missing in action (MIA), you may be eligible for a grant of up to $1,200.
- Pennsylvania National Guard Education Assistance Program (EAP). If you’re already a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard or willing to commit to six years of service, you could qualify for up to 100% of your cost of tuition for an undergraduate degree.
Do I qualify for Pennsylvania scholarships and grants if I go to school out of state?
You might. Pennsylvania is one of a few states that allows its grant and scholarships to be used at postsecondary institutions outside state lines, though your funding may be reduced. You might be able to qualify for Pennsylvania’s state-funded aid if you’re attending school in:
- West Virginia
- Washington, DC
Does Pennsylvania offer special student loans to residents?
Not yet, but it plans to in the future. According to the PHEAA website, the state will soon offer competitive loans to undergraduate and graduate students and their parents, as well as refinancing options. We’ll update this page as we learn more.
Other ways to pay for school in Pennsylvania
If you don’t qualify for any of Pennsylvania’s limited scholarship and grant opportunities, here are a few alternatives to help cover the cost of school.
Federal and college scholarships and grants
The federal government offers many need-based grants to students pursuing postsecondary education. And you should check to see what financial aid programs are available at your specific school, too. For example, Penn State offers both grants and scholarships to help students reduce the cost of attendance.
Federal and private student loans
When all else fails, student loans are a classic way to bridge the gap when scholarships and grants fall short. Start with your federal Direct Loan options. They typically have the lowest rates available to undergraduates. After, you might want to consider your private student loan options.
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Explore scholarships, student loans and grants in other states
Pennsylvania doesn’t have many options when it comes to free student aid. And with its student loan program still in development, you may want to check out our guide to student loans to explore other ways to pay for school.
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