After FAFSA was delayed by almost three months, PA ONLY extends deadline for state grant program

23 April 2024- The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has announced that the submission deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), with relation to the PA State Grant Program, has been extended to June 1, 2024.

“In a year of unprecedented change with regards to the FAFSA, we believe adjusting our deadline for state financial aid is the right thing to do,” said Senator Wayne Fontana, Chairman of the PHEAA Board of Directors. “Giving students and families a few more weeks to fill out their FAFSA will ensure our PA State Grant dollars get into the hands of the students who need it most.”

The launch of the FAFSA application for the upcoming academic year was delayed almost 3 months as the FAFSA underwent changes as a result of the FAFSA Simplification Act, which was intended to streamline the financial aid application process. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) rolled out the new FAFSA on December 31, 2023, for the 2024-25 academic year, but has since encountered a number of issues, delays, and errors in processing student applications.

The PA State Grant Program uses the FAFSA form as its primary application point to determine student eligibility for a PA State Grant award. Historically, May 1 was used as the “deadline” for students to complete their FAFSA for PA State Grant purposes.

“The current issues with the 2024-25 FAFSA have had a significant impact on the PA State Grant Program, just as they’ve impacted FAFSA completion rates, schools’ financial aid package distribution, and grant programs in other states,” said PHEAA Board Member Representative Jennifer O’Mara. “We want to make sure our students and families are held harmless.”

“PHEAA’s ability to project the resources necessary to maintain 2023-24 PA State Grant award levels or even increase awards in 2024-25 is affected by the delays and errors with the transmitted FAFSA data,” said Jim Steeley, PHEAA President and CEO. “To date, we have received significantly fewer FAFSAs compared to the same time in 2023 – including both first-time and renewal applicants.”

Even with the extension to June 1, PHEAA urges students who have not yet submitted their FAFSA for the upcoming 2024-25 academic year to submit it as soon as possible. To meet the PA State Grant deadline as a first-time or renewal applicant, PHEAA will look at the student’s FAFSA submission date. Once the FAFSA is submitted, students needing to complete the PA State Grant Form, or any supplemental documentation, have until the academic year student reconsideration deadline (April 1, 2025 for the 2024-25 award year).

After a student completes the FAFSA and the data is transmitted to PHEAA, the next step for first-time applicants is filling out the PA State Grant Form using PHEAA’s new GrantUs platform. Notices are expected to go out in the next few weeks to students, with instructions on setting up their GrantUs accounts and completing their PA State Grant documentation. Renewal applicants only need to submit a FAFSA and set up a GrantUs account. PHEAA staff will continue to work diligently to address any obstacles to obtaining financial aid and communicate any changes necessary to ensure access to financial aid.

The FAFSA submission deadline for first-time applicants who plan to enroll in a community college; business, trade, or technical school; a hospital school of nursing; a designated Pennsylvania Open Admission institution; or a non-transferable 2-year degree program at a community, 2-year, or 4-year college remains August 1, 2024.