PHEAA State Grant Program

The basic eligibility requirements reviewed by PHEAA when it receives an application are:

  • Meets criteria for financial need
  • Enrolled on at least a half-time basis in an Associate degree program and does not already have a Bachelor’s degree
  • U.S. high school graduate or the recipient of a G.E.D.
  • Pennsylvania resident (domiciliary)
  • Met the application deadline by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by May 1st of the academic year the student is attending

PHEAA State grant award notices should be considered estimates. Even after a student has received a State grant award notice, PHEAA requires a college to conduct additional eligibility checks. PHEAA will send Northampton Community College (NCC) an official list of all students awarded State grants at the beginning of each semester (including summer). Your State grant will appear on your financial aid award as "estimated" until your eligibility is confirmed. The following are some of the eligibility checks that will be made by NCC financial aid staff prior to any State grant funds being disbursed to your account.

Additional School Certification Eligibility Requirements:

Enrollment Status
PHEAA considers full-time status as at least 12 credits in a semester and half-time status as at least 6 credits in a semester. Enrollment status can also be impacted by individual courses. Please read the information on “Remedial Exception” and “Distance Learning” (below).

Definition Of Semester Length
PHEAA defines a semester as approximately 17 weeks in length. Therefore, if you are taking accelerated courses at NCC, the amount of State grant you receive or the date you receive it could be affected. For example, if you were taking 2 courses, both within the same accelerated 6 week term, you would not be eligible for a State grant because the term length does not meet PHEAA’s definition. If you were taking 2 courses, one a regular length course and the other an accelerated course starting later, a college would be required to withhold applying your State grant until the first day of the accelerated course.

Summer State Grant Eligibility
In addition to all other eligibility criteria, students at Northampton Community College must be registered in at least 6 credits during the summer to be considered for a Summer State grant. However, students cannot be registered exclusively in either the Summer I (courses start in May) or Summer II (courses start in July) semesters due to the length of these summer sessions. PHEAA also requires NCC to withhold applying a Summer State grant to a student’s account until after the first day of the Summer II semester.

Remedial Exception
If a student is taking remedial (developmental) or ESL courses, the student must also take at least 3 regular degree credits in a semester to be considered for a State grant. A student is only eligible to receive this type of combined credit payment (remedial exception) for 2 full-time or 4 part-time semesters. After a student has received the maximum number of remedial exceptions, only regular degree credits can be used when determining enrollment status for additional State grants.

Distance Learning
PHEAA requires State grant recipients to earn at least 50% of their program of study through classroom instruction. Distance learning (on-line) courses are monitored by Northampton Community College on a semester basis to ensure this requirement is met. Therefore, to be considered for a State grant, a student must take at least 6 credits in a semester, 3 of which must be regular degree credits taken through classroom instruction. If at any point during a student’s program of study it is determined that less than 50% of credits earned were taken through classroom instruction, PHEAA requires a college to return all State grant funds from current and prior years. For example, a student in his first year of an Associate degree program received two full-time State grants (one in the Fall and the other in the Spring semester) and earned a total of 30 credits. The student earned 15 of those credits through classroom instruction and the other 15 credits through distance (on-line) instruction. In his second year, the student enrolled in a total of 30 credits (Fall and Spring semesters) all through distance courses. Since the student did not enroll in at least 50% classroom instruction in his second year, he was not eligible for a State grant and PHEAA required all State grant funds from his first year be refunded.

Academic Progress
To be considered for a State grant a student must meet PHEAA’s academic progress requirement. This requirement applies to students who received a State grant in a prior academic year. If a student received a State grant at a different college, an academic transcript from that college is required to confirm that academic progress was met. For the most recent year a State grant was received, a student must successfully complete at least 12 credits for each full-time grant and/or 6 credits for each part-time grant. For example, if a student received two full-time State grants in the prior year (Fall and Spring semesters), PHEAA requires the student to have successfully completed at least 24 credits in order to be eligible for a State grant in the current year.

Change In Enrollment Status
A change in enrollment status can affect a student’s eligibility for a State grant. The following are some examples of enrollment changes that may result in an adjustment to a student’s State grant during a semester:

  • Drop from full-time to half-time
  • Drop from half-time to less than half-time
  • Withdrawal
  • Switching from a regular degree course to one that is remedial or ESL
  • Switching from a course taken through classroom instruction to one that is distance learning

 

Gift Aid Test
PHEAA requires a student’s total gift aid not to exceed PHEAA’s determined cost of attendance at a college. Gift aid includes grants and any other funds received that do not have to be repaid. Examples of gift aid include (but are not limited to) federal Pell and SEOG grants, scholarships and tuition remission or reimbursement. In the event a student’s gift aid exceeds cost of attendance, PHEAA requires a college to report the results of the test. State grant funds will not be applied to a student’s account until an adjusted State grant amount has been confirmed by PHEAA.

Reduced Costs
When the tuition and fee costs incurred by a student for a semester are at least 25% less than the costs used by PHEAA to determine State grant eligibility, a college is required to report the actual costs incurred. PHEAA requires colleges to report such reduced costs and withhold applying State grant funds until the amount of a grant has been adjusted accordingly.

Monroe County students who take 6 or 7 credits in a semester will need to have their State grants adjusted due to substantially different actual costs than those used by PHEAA to calculate their awards.

Maximum Number Of AwardsA student is eligible for 4 years (8 full-time or 16 part-time semesters) of State grant aid in his/her lifetime. PHEAA only allows students to receive 2 years of State grants in a two-year academic program. Therefore, students attending Northampton Community College are limited to 4 full-time or 8 part-time semesters of State grant eligibility for most Associate degree programs.

How To Contact PHEAA Or Check the Status Of Your State Grant
You can contact PHEAA or view the status of your State grant application by going to:

http://www.pheaa.org/funding-opportunities/state-grant-program/index.shtml

If you have not already done so, use the “Sign In/Create an Account” section of this Web site to create an on-line account.

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