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Stern announces state aid for Blair County students

Five million dollars in state grant money is on its way to benefit more than 2200 students in Blair County.
State Representative Jerry Stern (R-Blair) announced Wednesday grant awards which are being distributed by American Education Services and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.
The money is coming to Blair County through the Pennsylvania State Grant Program. More than a thousand students in Representative Stern’s 80th Legislative District are eligible for the funds.
“Higher education is a goal many students strive for and are now finding possible to achieve with the help of these state grants,” said Stern. An investment in higher education is an investment in the future of Pennsylvania.”
“Whenever we do these grants program and funding it’s always rewarding to see just how many local constituents really do benefit from it,” Stern told The Daily Herald.
According to a news release from Representative Stern, the Pennsylvania State Grant Program was created in 1966 to provide grants to eligible residents in need of financial aid. During the 2002-03 academic year, more than 154,000 Pennsylvania students were awarded a state grant. The figure represents more than 4,000 additional students than the previous year.
Stern points out all the money invested in the program by the state goes directly to the students. AES/PHEAA pay all administrative costs at no expense to state taxpayers. In turn, an additional $9 million becomes available to the students.
Stern noted that students in the state also received more than $1.8 billion in student loans guaranteed by AES/PHEAA during 2003. The difference is that while other federal student loans charge as much as four percent of the loan amount in up-front fees, AES/PHEAA offers Pennsylvania students KeystoneBest, which is a zero-fee loan. Since the fees for the borrower are paid for, Pennsylvania students save more than $70 million dollars each year. A typical KeystoneBest borrower saves as much as $1,100 over the life of the loan.
Additional information can be found at the following website: www.PHEAA.org.
Here are some of the highlights regarding the state grant program:
The program allows eligible Pennsylvania residents to obtain financial assistance for undergraduate study at any PHEAA-approved institution of higher education. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) serves as the program’s application and must be received by:
May 1-immediately preceding the academic year for: all renewal applicants, new applicants who plan to enroll in an undergraduate baccalaureate degree program, and those in college transfer programs at two-year public or junior colleges.
Aug. 1- immediately preceding the academic year for first-time applicants who plan to enroll in: a business, trade or technical school, a hospital school of nursing, or a two-year terminal (i.e. nontransferable two-year degree) program at a community, junior, or four-year college.
Summer-school students may also qualify for State Grant funds.
Students attending postsecondary schools in Maryland, New Jersey, or New York are not able to receive State Grant funds (certain exceptions may apply).
PHEAA encourages applications be submitted even if the deadlines have passed. Late applications may qualify for an award if funds permit. More information can be obtained by calling 1-800-692-7392. Additional information and applications are available on-line.
Eligibility Requirements:
• meet criteria for financial need
• be enrolled on at least a half-time basis in a PHEAA-approved undergraduate program of study and do not already have a 4-year (or more) undergraduate degree
• be a high school graduate or the recipient of a GED
• demonstrate academic progress (for continued aid)
• be a Pennsylvania resident (domiciliary).