Pennsylvania is National Leader in Public Funding for Higher Education

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Annual survey ranks states' higher education support for 2009-10

Harrisburg, PA (August 11, 2011)—The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced today that the Commonwealth leads the nation in the support of need-based state grants according to an annual survey which analyses financial aid that states provide to students.

The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reports that Pennsylvania was 1st in support of need-based grants, as a percentage of public funding for higher education, among the seven states with the highest dollar support for need-based aid.

  • Pennsylvania—20.5 percent
  • New York—19.9
  • New Jersey—18.6
  • Washington—15.2
  • Illinois—13.0
  • Texas—10.1
  • California—9.6

"These results recognize the priority that the General Assembly places on supporting our students as they look for sources of funding for their higher education," said Representative William Adolph, PHEAA Board Chairman. "Providing meaningful funding to the State Grant Program can make a significant difference for many students who are struggling to afford education beyond high school."

For the 2009-10 academic year, which was the subject year for the survey, a total of $413.3 million was allocated to support the State Grant Program and more than 171,700 students received State Grant awards.

The NASSGAP survey also ranked Pennsylvania in 3rd place behind California and New York in total award dollars provided to undergraduate college students through its need-based grant program.

For the 2011-12 academic year, the Commonwealth appropriated $380.9 million to the State Grant Program. Every dollar appropriated to the Program goes directly to students since PHEAA covers all administrative costs, saving the Commonwealth about $12 million annually. Additionally, PHEAA's Board of Directors recently approved an allocation of $50 million from PHEAA's business earnings to supplement the Commonwealth's appropriation, making approximately $430 million available for State Grant Awards in 2011-12.

"It's imperative that Pennsylvania students know that they have access to one of the top need-based financial aid programs in the country," Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis said. "The Commonwealth is committed to providing financial assistance to those who need it most."

"My colleagues in the General Assembly understand the value of helping to educate our students who will become the cornerstone of tomorrow's workforce," said Senator Wayne Fontana, PHEAA Board Vice Chairman. "A well-educated workforce can pay significant dividends to the Commonwealth; helping to ensure our future economic well-being and prosperity."

For information on the higher education financial aid process, 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 can join PHEAA on Facebook at