So far you've seen a number of grant options--federal grants, grant money for special talents, etc. Did you know that you can also obtain college grants from your home state as well? It's true! Grants like these are called state-sponsored grants, and they are given to residents meeting certain criteria. Most states offer this opportunity, however because Go Financial Aid is a PA-based company, we'll use Pennsylvania as the example to illustrate.
To be eligible for a PA state grant, a student must meet the following criteria:
- Be a high school graduate
- Attend a qualifying PHEAA-approved school
- Be enrolled in a 2+ year academic program
- Have an enrollment status of at least half-time (6-11 credits=half-time, 12+ credits=full-time)
- Not have previously earned a Bachelor's degree
- Not be in default on any education loans (i.e. if you completed some studies at another institution, you would have loans)
- Apply by the designated deadline (May 1st for degree programs, August 1st for community college, August 15th if for summer)
- Follow any additional guidelines
The amount students receive from the state grant depends on a few factors. These include:
- Parents' Yearly Income: The range here goes from less than $25,000 to $99,999 a year. The more your parents earn, the less your reward.
- Type of Institution: This divides into sub-categories. Colleges are grouped in several ways, so grant amounts vary. Types include private 4-year schools, trade schools, community colleges, state schools, etc.
Note the chart below, provided by PHEAA and the State Grant statistics tape. Numbers below "Parents' Annual Income" block represent tuition; numbers below income amounts ($) represent potential awards.
|Parents' Annual Income||<$25,000||$25,000–$49,999||$50,000–$74,999||$75,000–$99,999|
4-Year private college
Business, trade, or technical school
Though it would be a significantly lower amount, PA residents attending out-of-state schools may also qualify for a grant.
Applying for a state grant is easy to do, because students may do so directly from their FAFSA application. Yes, you DO have to file a FAFSA. Upon completion of the FAFSA, an "optional feature" should appear, which will direct applicants to the state grant application. If by chance you didn't do this when completing the FAFSA, you can go back to the American Education Services (AES) website and do it there. When you're done, you will need to send a signed contract of sorts to PHEAA via snail mail. Remember the above-mentioned deadlines when applying for your state grant, There's nothing worse than a missed opportunity!
Note that state grants are also available for summer term studies. The guidelines and process are generally the same, aside from small deadline changes, which were mentioned at the top of this page. Students are only eligible for grant money for 4 years of academic study, so utilizing grant money during the summer will exhaust the grant prior to completion of 4 regular fall - spring "academic" school years. Exceptions are made for selected 5-year programs.
Upon applying, students may check on the status of the grant application and also update any necessary information. To do so, log in to your AES account. Certain changes must be made prior to August if they will affect the institution your grant is disbursed to. More information on this is available from PHEAA.
It's great to know that your home state has your back when it comes to getting financial aid for college. Even though this page focused on Pennsylvania, many states have similar programs available. Usually the best way to find them is to go to your state's website, which is often "state abbreviation.gov." For Pennsylvania, the website is pa.gov. Sometimes it's hard to believe how many solutions there are to financial aid concerns!