The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has been reviewing the impact of COVID-19 on students as it relates to the PA State Grant Program and other PHEAA-administered programs. PHEAA has monitored the COVID-19 situation and been in contact with postsecondary schools and organizations as they have made operational changes that may include, but are not limited to: 1) extending breaks; 2) moving students from the traditional classroom environment to distance education; and 3) canceling certain education experiences, such as study abroad or student teaching.

In focusing on the health and safety of Pennsylvania families, the PHEAA Board of Directors has exercised its authority as administrator and servicer of the below programs to provide relief to students impacted by these changes as they pursue their postsecondary education. PHEAA’s goal is to review policies and take appropriate actions to minimize disruption for Pennsylvania’s student population by easing financial burdens and maintaining access to higher education, within the bounds of statutory authority.

Please remember that all schools and partners must adhere to regulatory agency, accreditation, licensing board, Title IV, and privacy requirements, as these provisions do not override such requirements, nor does PHEAA have the authority to waive such requirements. PHEAA understands that program administrators may be working remotely and continues an expectation that student data will be appropriately safeguarded during this time.

Note that outside of the policy adjustments described, this guidance does not otherwise supersede guidance contained in the PA State Grant Handbook or individual program guidelines and should be applied in conjunction with current program policy. We recognize and continue to expect your good faith efforts to comply with the intent of the above guidance as you administer the PA State Grant Program and all other Pennsylvania aid programs.

PA State Grant Program – Fall 2020 Term Updates

PHEAA is aware that many postsecondary institutions are planning adjustments to the Fall 2020 term as a result of COVID-19. While accommodations were provided to institutions during the Winter, Spring and Summer 2020 terms, it is important to keep in mind that the structure of the PA State Grant Program is grounded in statute and regulations which continue to govern the program as schools look ahead to the 2020-21 Academic Year.

In an effort to assist schools in making decisions without unintended impacts on program or student eligibility, please refer to the PA State Grant Program – Fall 2020 Term Updates memo (PDF) for reminders and guidance regarding the PA State Grant Program and corresponding statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements at the institutional, program, and student eligibility levels.

PA State Grant Summer Workshops

The PA State Grant and Special Programs (SGSP) Department conducts annual Summer Workshops to provide financial aid administrators with information about upcoming policy changes for the PA State Grant Program. For the 2020-21 Workshops, the SGSP and PA Forward Student Loan teams will again collaborate to bring schools updates on both programs.

The workshop will provide attendees with:

  • A brief update on the PA Forward Student Loan Program;
  • A chance to explore new and challenging PA State Grant eligibility topics; and
  • An opportunity to ask questions of PHEAA staff

To register for a specific Virtual Summer Workshop session, select the Register link under the event description. To register for multiple sessions at once, select the "2020-21 Summer Virtual Workshops" program from main PHEAA webinar page. Please note, the schedule is subject to change.

Program Guidance

Below is guidance for institutions, employers, and partners on the administration of the PA State Grant Program and Special Programs administered by PHEAA.

Please note the following adjustments to PA State Grant Program requirements for students who are enrolled in the Winter, Spring, or Summer 2020 term:

These adjustments to program requirements only apply in cases where all of the following are true:

  • The student has not completely withdrawn from the term prior to COVID-19 disruptions
  • The student may no longer be full time; however, the student has not completely withdrawn from the term due to COVID-19 disruptions; and
  • The school has not reversed all of the student’s tuition charges for the term

Institutions, employers, and partners are encouraged to contact us (PDF) with specific questions and concerns related to COVID-19.

Previously credited PA State Grant Awards for the Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020 terms–Students who meet the above conditions will remain eligible for credited PA State Grant awards for the Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020 terms under the eligibility for which the awards were initially credited prior to COVID-19 disruptions, as determined and documented by the institution. This eligibility will be retained regardless of changes within the term to a school’s academic calendar, the mode of delivery of coursework, or changes to a student’s enrollment across all modules in a term.

Future crediting of PA State Grant Awards for the Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020 terms–Students who meet the above conditions and whose awards have not yet been credited will be eligible to receive PA State Grant awards for the Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020 terms based on each school’s initial enrollment options for the term prior to COVID-19 disruptions, as determined and documented by the institution. This eligibility will be retained regardless of changes within the term to a school’s academic calendar, the mode of delivery of coursework, or changes to a student’s enrollment across all modules in a term.

As a reminder, cost adjustments must be submitted for any students whose tuition and fee charges represent more than a 25% reduction to the PHEAA-approved tuition and fees. Reductions to room and board do not require any adjustment in costs.

If you have any questions related to the Winter or Spring term, check out our FAQs today! (PDF) Or, if you have questions about the Summer term, please contact us!

Previously credited awards for the Winter and Spring 2020 terms–Students who meet the above conditions will remain eligible for credited awards for the Winter and Spring 2020 terms under the eligibility for which the awards were initially credited prior to COVID-19 disruptions, as determined and documented by the institution. This eligibility will be retained regardless of changes within the term to a school’s academic calendar, the mode of delivery of coursework, or changes to a student’s enrollment across all modules in a term.

Future crediting of awards for the Winter and Spring 2020 terms–Students who meet the above conditions and whose awards have not yet been credited will be eligible to receive awards for the Winter and Spring 2020 terms based on each school’s initial enrollment options for the term prior to COVID-19 disruptions, as determined and documented by the institution. This eligibility will be retained regardless of changes within the term to a school’s academic calendar, the mode of delivery of coursework, or changes to a student’s enrollment across all modules in a term.

Previously credited awards for the Winter and Spring 2020 terms–Students who meet the above conditions will remain eligible for credited awards for the Winter and Spring 2020 terms under the eligibility for which the awards were initially credited prior to COVID-19 disruptions, as determined and documented by the institution. This eligibility will be retained regardless of changes within the term to a school’s academic calendar, the mode of delivery of coursework, or changes to a student’s enrollment across all modules in a term.

Future crediting of awards for the Winter and Spring 2020 terms–Students who meet the above conditions and whose awards have not yet been credited will be eligible to receive awards for the Winter and Spring 2020 terms based on each school’s initial enrollment options for the term prior to COVID-19 disruptions, as determined and documented by the institution. This eligibility will be retained regardless of changes within the term to a school’s academic calendar, the mode of delivery of coursework, or changes to a student’s enrollment across all modules in a term.

Receipt of partner funds–Schools will not be penalized for keeping disbursed PATH funds longer than allowed if the school documents communication with the PATH partner organization regarding COVID-19 related disruption to the organization function and ability to disburse scholarship funds to the school in a timely manner. In all cases; however, schools must return PATH funds to PHEAA no later than July 1, 2020 if partner scholarship funds have not been received prior to that date.

Previously credited awards for the Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020 terms–Students who meet the above conditions will remain eligible for credited awards for the Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020 terms under the eligibility for which the awards were initially credited prior to COVID-19 disruptions, as determined and documented by the institution. This eligibility will be retained regardless of changes within the term to a school’s academic calendar.

Future crediting of awards for the Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020 terms–Students who meet the above conditions and whose awards have not yet been credited will be eligible to receive awards for the Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020 terms based on each school’s initial enrollment options for the term prior to COVID-19 disruptions, as determined and documented by the institution. This eligibility will be retained regardless of changes within the term to a school’s academic calendar.

PHEAA understands that participating Act 101 Program schools may not be able to provide programming and support to students as initially planned for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year. Act 101 Directors are encouraged to reach out to PHEAA staff via the Act101@pheaa.org program mailbox with specific questions.

Please view the PHEAA memo titled "PA State Grant Program–COVID-19 Guidance" for specific information regarding any potential adjustments to student eligibility for the PA State Grant Program, the primary driver of institutional IAG funding levels. It is anticipated that little variation in IAG eligibility will be experienced as a result of COVID-19 disruptions. Additionally, students who withdraw from the Winter or Spring 2020 term due to COVID-19 disruptions, as determined and documented by the institution, will be allowed in an institution’s count of PA State Grant Program recipients for the 2019-20 award year.

For the 2019-20 academic year, if institutions are still utilizing their federally provided FWS funds, then no changes will be necessary for FWS-ON and FWS-CS.

Institutions: For the 2019-20 academic year, if schools as employers are continuing to pay students according to a planned work schedule, similar to Federal Work-Study Program guidance, then PHEAA will continue to reimburse for submitted hours, regardless of a student’s actual ability to work.

Non-School Employers: For the 2019-20 academic year, if non-school employers are continuing to pay students according to a planned work schedule, then PHEAA will continue to reimburse for submitted hours, regardless of a student’s actual ability to work.

For the Winter and Spring 2020 terms, each BDBG award recipient continues to be eligible for the award as long as the student has not withdrawn from the institution prior to crediting of the award.

For the Winter and Spring 2020 terms, each award recipient continues to be eligible for the award as long as the student has not withdrawn from the institution prior to crediting of the award.


If you have questions which have not been addressed by this guidance or questions related to programs not referenced (e.g., EAP, Chafee, PEGP), please send them to the specific program inboxes.

Check out the list of all the mailboxes for all PHEAA-administered programs. (PDF)