PHEAA State Grant Program

State Grant Update

If you are enrolled for on-line credits beginning with Summer 2018 and have been awarded a Pennsylvania State Grant (administered by PHEAA) PLEASE BE AWARE that if more than 50% of your semester credits are through on-line courses, your state grant will most likely be reduced over the coming weeks.

In the past, the PA State Grant program, sometimes referred to as PHEAA, has required that students take no more than 50% of their semester credits on-line (along with other eligibility factors such as showing financial need, being enrolled in an eligible degree program, being in good academic standing,etc).  Since Fall of 2013 Northampton Community College has participated in the State Grant Distance Education Pilot program which allowed students enrolled for more than 50% on-line semester coursework to receive state grant funding at the same level as their on-campus counterparts.  The pilot program ended with the Spring 2018 semester and distance education was approved to be included in the PA State Grant program, initially at a reduced award amount.

Beginning with the 2018-19 Academic Year, distance education will be incorporated into the PA State Grant Program. Due to limited resources, students enrolled in more than 50% distance education credits may receive a reduced award.

Basic Eligibility

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" 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.

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

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 Awards

A 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.

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.