SRU to cover funding gap from PHEAA State Grant reductions

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A reduction in state funding through the PHEAA State Grant Program would have affected 2,346 Slippery Rock University students for the spring 2018 semester, but University leadership opted to cover the funding gap.

Dec. 6, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University is covering the cost that its students would have to pay because of cutbacks in a state-funded grant program.

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The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency State Grant Program, which provides need-based student aid for Pennsylvania students, made the decision last month to reduce conditional awards for the spring 2018 semester. This decision, which affects every school with students who receive the fund, would have impacted 2,346 SRU students with a combined $327,764 in funding cuts. Individual reductions in grants for SRU students ranged between $23 and $166.

"Our students committed to pursuing their education at Slippery Rock University, so we are committing to them," said Philip Way, SRU interim president. "Many of our students rely on this funding to assist with their educational costs and we decided to step in during this time of economic uncertainty as it pertains to state funding."

The PHEAA State Grant Program assists students and families who are eligible for need-based funds as determined by Free Application for Federal Student Aid information. Each year, PHEAA issues conditional awards before distributing final awards at a later time. This year, because of the early FAFSA and uncertainty with the state budget, PHEAA decided to make final awards for fall only and leave spring as conditional awards. By Nov. 1, PHEAA determined that spring awards would need to be reduced.

Way and Amir Mohammadi, vice president of finance, administrative affairs and advancement services, decided to use institutional funds to fill the gap.

"The families who qualify for the PHEAA State Grant are the same families who absolutely rely on financial aid in order to achieve their educational goals," said Alyssa Dobson, director of financial aid and scholarships. "The decision by University administrators to give this reduction back to the students in the form of institutional funds is reflective of SRU's commitment to access to higher education and student success."

All of the impacted students will see a lower amount under "PHEAA State Grant" indicated on their bill for the spring 2018 semester. However, they will also see a "PHEAA Gap Award" in the amount that the grant would have been, had the conditional awards not decreased.

"The upcoming reduction on spring PHEAA awards could cause a further hardship and potential anxiety to the already demanding life of a college student," said Renee Jenkins, director of student accounting. "Strong leadership and commitment by Drs. Way and Mohammadi affords SRU additional opportunities to serve our students. This continued focus highlights our commitment to student success, not only in the classroom academically, but in their life as students."

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 | justin.zackal@sru.edu