PHEAA’s mission to support students in Pennsylvania


The COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating economic impact has forced students and families in Pennsylvania to rethink their college graduation plans.

As president of the Pennsylvania Institute for Higher Education (PHEAA), I can assure readers that recent research on affordability in universities continues to reach the same conclusions. The degrees are worth the investment, as in most states here in Pennsylvania.

On average, the bachelor’s degree in Pennsylvania earns 51.7% more than the associate’s degree in Pennsylvania ($ 89,278 vs. $ 58,847). According to a May 2020 report released by the Thomas Fordham Institute, 78% more than those with a high school diploma.

A recent PHEAA study reveals how PA state grant programs play an important role in reducing student debt.

This is especially important in Pennsylvania. Sixty-five percent of college graduates have student loan debt, with an average debt of over $ 39,000. This is the second highest amount in the country.

According to other surveys, the income gap between Pennsylvania college graduates and those with only high school diplomas was even larger than the national average.

Business and technical schools also offer lifelong benefits, especially as they prepare for a demanding career with plenty of employment opportunities compared to those who do not pursue further education beyond high school. .

Business and technical schools have advantages over traditional four-year colleges. For example, a vocational school costs on average 25% of a regular four-year baccalaureate program and can be completed in half the time.

PHEAA is helping Pennsylvania families deal with this debt. We recently announced that the agency may increase its maximum grant this year to a record $ 5,000. This program offers free assistance to low and middle income students.

The Legislature and Governor Tom Wolf deserve praise for allocating $ 331 million to a needs-based Pennsylvania grant program in this year’s budget. PHEAA complements that amount with $ 15 million in business income generated from its work as a student loan manager, federal guarantor, and software as a service provider.

As a result, we return millions of dollars to Pennsylvania students and taxpayers every year. Over the past four years, PHEAA has allocated nearly $ 250 million in revenue to the fund to reward Pennsylvania students with the greatest financial need.

Over the past decade, PHEAA has donated over $ 1 billion to supplement PA state grants and other student support programs, while covering all administrative costs of the PA. program. This makes it one of the most effective programs of its kind in the country, as all the appropriate dollars are used directly to help Pennsylvania students in need.

They tend to have higher interest rates and less interest for borrowers, while private student loans are increasingly needed to help students cover all tuition costs. That’s why PHEAA worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Community Economic Development to launch PA Forward, a more affordable and accessible private student loan option that is easier to repay.

Students can borrow up to the full cost of tuition without paying. PA Forward also offers interest rate reductions for graduation and enrollment in an automatic withdrawal program during repayment.

The decision to go to college and pay for college can seem overwhelming, and it was true before the pandemic wreaked havoc on so many Pennsylvanians.

The PHEAA has developed an online tool to help students and families understand their choices and make decisions appropriate to their situation. Ultimately, as the data shows, this return on investment in time and energy can pay off in the years to come. Visit to access these resources and learn more about our efforts to help students graduate from college.

Republican Parliamentarian Michael Paifer represents parts of Pike and Wayne counties.


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