UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. — PHEAA — the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency — announced on Monday the start of PA Forward, a new, low-cost loan program to help students and their parents pay for college.
Shawn Barbrow, a guidance counselor at Bellefonte Area High School, said PA Forward will help families fill the gap between federal loans and grants and the cost of college.
“We see that gap growing every single year. And with a partner like PHEAA, that is a trusted partner, offers competitive rates and no- cost loans to students, it’s going to provide our students with more opportunities to make those college aspirations a reality," Barbrow said.
The program will be available for the 2019-20 school year. Pennsylvania students and parents will be able to borrow up to the total cost of attendance using low-cost loans.
Jim Steeley, interim president and CEO of PHEAA, which is running the program, said the program will help address unmet needs in Pennsylvania.
“We’re excited to launch it, and hope we’re able to help fill that $2 billion void.”
The program is getting $100 million dollars from the state Department of Community and Economic Development and can ask for more in the future, if needed. It’s expected to be especially helpful to middle class families who have a need, but might not qualify for as much support.
Twenty other states have similar programs. Other features of PA Forward include no application fees and giving borrowers six months after graduation before the first payment is due. Students who live in Pennsylvania or attend a Pennsylvania school and live in another approved state can qualifty.