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As vice chairman of the Board, I have been working with my colleagues on this offer for quite some time and I am thrilled that it has finally come to fruition.
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency has made significant strides in accomplishing its goal of becoming a valuable partner with Pennsylvania parents and students. The selection of top administrative staff and the reorganization of PHEAA has certainly been the primary factor in this news.
Prudent fiscal management, reform, restructuring and new business development that has been undertaken in the past few years has financially positioned PHEAA to make a real difference.
This supplement is funded entirely from PHEAA’s business earnings and is in addition to the $15 million that PHEAA incurs to administer the state grant program and provide public service outreach at no cost to taxpayers. That’s really the best news.
The proposed state grant appropriation for the 2011-12 academic year is $380.9 million. Combined with the $50 million supplement, the maximum state grant award will increase from last year’s level of $3,541 to $4,309, approximately $700 more.
The Board also voted to move the state grant application deadline from May 1 to August 1 for non-renewal students who attend community college. This action is expected to provide awards for approximately 15,000 additional community college students. Once the budget is passed, final awards will be recalculated for all students and notification will be made if there are any changes to students’ eligibility.
PHEAA has taken a number of steps over the past few years to make its website and operations more accessible and easy for parents and students to understand.
· Borrowers can now make student loan payments directly from their web-enabled cell phones, including smart phones.
· PHEAA.org offers comprehensive financial aid and college planning information, including access to all Pennsylvania-specific student aid programs.
· The PHEAA Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pheaa.aid) provides schedules for upcoming financial aid nights and FAFSA completion sessions, reminders of financial aid deadlines, and video clips offering tips and information pertaining to planning for higher education.
· Students seeking grants and scholarships have access to a free scholarship search to research and access billions of dollars in grants and scholarships through PHEAA.org.
I believe that students who want an education should be able to receive one, for free. In a perfect world that would occur, but until we are able to accomplish that, I am glad that PHEAA is available to provide help to make that education more affordable.
Did you know that PHEAA was created in 1963 by the General Assembly and the voters? A November 1963 vote amended the PA Constitution to authorize for the first time grant and loan-making to individuals pursuing post-secondary education.
Today, the agency does business across the country with $130.9 billion in assets under management, serves millions of students and thousands of schools through loan servicing, grant and financial aid processing systems. In FY 09-10, the State Grant Program was comprised of over 183,000 awards valued at $413 million.