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Student Loans

Guide to Pennsylvania Student Loans, Scholarships, and Grants

Updated Jun 02, 2021   |   7 mins read

Students looking for resources to fund college in Pennsylvania can turn to options like state-based student loans, as well as scholarships and college grants specific to the state.

The best option for you can hinge on several factors, such as your school choice, how much funding you’ll need, and your academic background.

To review some specific opportunities check out the options below.

On this page:

Getting Financial Aid for College in Pennsylvania

When you’re preparing for college, it’s important to be proactive in how you assess your financial situation and start applying for various forms of financial aid. First, all prospective students needing financial aid should start by filling out the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

When it comes to filling this out, the sooner the better because the extra time will allow you to maximize what you can qualify for.

Once you complete the FAFSA, you can start exploring local scholarships for Pennsylvania students, as well as grant options. You can use LendEDU’s scholarship search tool to help find scholarship opportunities, and you can speak to local resources in your community, such as your school counselor.

The amount of FAFSA aid you’re eligible to receive depends on a few factors. They include your Expected Family Contribution, the year you are in school, your enrollment status, and the cost of attendance.

The school’s financial aid office determines financial aid eligibility. First, they decide the cost of attendance (COA), then subtract your expected family contribution to determine the amount of need-based aid. For non-need-based aid, the school takes the COA and subtracts financial aid that’s already been awarded.

Pennsylvania Student Loans

Pennsylvania student loans must be repaid, but they can be a critical way to fund education, particularly if there are gaps between what a student or their family can pay, scholarships or grants they’ve already received, and the actual cost of the school.

There are both public and private borrowing options available to students in Pennsylvania. Federal student loans and state options are often better options because they tend to have lower interest rates and more repayment and forgiveness options than private student loans.

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is a good resource for finding state-based financial aid information. The PHEAA does offer state-funded student aid options. Loan servicing from PHEAA is conducted through American Education Services and FedLoan Servicing.

Here are some organizations providing private student loans in Pennsylvania:

Penn Community Bank

Penn Community Bank works with iHelp Private Student Loans. Students can apply in about 15 minutes for funding. There are also iHelp Private Consolidation Loans offered through Penn Community Bank. These loans may require a cosigner, especially to receive a lower interest rate, and the options for repayment may be significantly more limited than with federal or state-based student loans.

Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU)

PSECU offers the Smart Option Student Loan for PSECU by Sallie Mae. This is for students attending degree-granting institutions, and there are no origination fees. This loan offers different in-school repayment options and the option of fixed or variable interest rates.

Tendto Credit Union

Tendto Credit Union offers different education lending options with no origination fees and relatively flexible repayment options. They also offer the Student Choice Refinance Loan in addition to the Student Choice Undergraduate Loan.

Scholarships for Pennsylvania Students

College scholarships in Pennsylvania are different from student loans. Scholarships don’t need to be repaid, but they do have specific – and sometimes rigorous – application and eligibility requirements.

To find Pennsylvania scholarships, you can do the following:

  • Check with the financial aid office at the school you’re going to attend. Students sometimes assume that when they apply to school, they’re simultaneously applying for scholarships, which they aren’t.
  • ​Talk to the counselor at your high school. They will likely have a list of scholarships that could be a good fit for you.
  • ​Reach out to local community organizations that you’re familiar with or that are associated with your family members. Civic groups and even unions often have scholarships available to children of members.
  • Of course, you can search online for local scholarships and national programs.

When you apply for scholarships, ensure that you meet deadlines. Some scholarship deadlines are in the summer before students even start their senior year. You want to apply early and make sure you have everything you need to submit. So give yourself time and stay organized with the scholarship application process.

The following are among the scholarships available to students in Pennsylvania:

Clarkston Scholars Program

The Clarkston Scholars Program has a deadline in January, and the amount is $10,000. The scholarship is for students interested in life sciences.

M. Verna Butterer Educational Trust

The M. Verna Butterer Educational Trust is a combination of a scholarship and an interest-free loan. It’s available to Bucks County residents who demonstrate financial need. The deadline for applications is in March.

NAAAP Philadelphia Scholarship

This $1,000 scholarship is available to students who are Asian/Asian American. The deadline for this Pennsylvania scholarship is in April.

NIADA Foundation Regional Scholarships

This $3,500 scholarship is available to high-performing students. It has an application deadline in March.

Pennsylvania Engineering Foundation Scholarships

The Pennsylvania Engineering Foundation issues a variety of scholarships to engineering students. The application deadline is in April.

Grants for College Students in Pennsylvania

A grant is another type of financial aid available to students in Pennsylvania. A grant is often disbursed by the state or federal government. One federal example is the Pell Grant, provided to low-income undergraduates. There are certain eligibility requirements and, as with scholarships, grants don’t have to be repaid.

One of the largest state-based grant programs is the Pennsylvania State Grant Program, a financial assistance program for undergraduates. It’s administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).

The organization’s Board of Directors follows a formula that varies each academic year to determine need. The amount a student can receive is based on financial situation and the cost of the school they plan to attend. Students must complete the FAFSA to be eligible for this Pennsylvania grant.

Other grants for college students in Pennsylvania include:

The Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant

This grant is available to undergraduates who previously were part of the state’s foster care system. Awards are approved for up to $3,000 each.

Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Grant

This grant for up to $20,000 is award to individuals attending colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grants are based on need and merit.

Partnership for Access to Higher Education (PATH)

When students receive funding from PHEAA, they may also be considered for the PATH program, which provides supplemental grant funding to students demonstrating need.

Final Thoughts on Student Aid in Pennsylvania

For students in Pennsylvania, the first step they should take to find funding is to complete the FAFSA. Then start searching for scholarships and grants that don’t have to be repaid. Finally, if you need more funding, turn to other loans to cover the cost.