Penn State

Budget stalemate complicates financial aid situation for some Penn State students

Penn State students who live off campus might be finding some challenges as school starts that trace back to Harrisburg.

The university is telling those on campus about some complications coming out of the capital.

“Students who have been awarded a PA State Grant will not receive this funding until the state budget passes,” the Office of Student Aid’s website says. “Due to the budget impasse, state funding has not been released to the university. Students may notice PA State Grant funds appearing as a credit on the bill but not disbursing into the student bursar account. If you have been awarded a PA State Grant and are expecting a refund, you could be impacted by this funding delay.”

For a student who lives in the dorms and eats in an on-campus dining hall, there isn’t much of an issue. Even if a refund was expected for some living expenses, the day-to-day problems are handled.

But those who live in an apartment and need to stock their kitchens, all using the refund they receive after their student aid posts and tuition is deducted, could be looking for other solutions.

“What we are informing students about is the delay in funding of the state grant program due to the fact the state has not yet passed the budget. We are allowing students to apply the grant toward their direct tuition and on-campus housing charges as an expected form of aid. In other words, it is a credit on their student account even though no funds have been received. Penn State will wait for those funds to come once the budget is passed,” said Anna Griswold, assistant vice president for undergraduate education and executive director for student aid.

“For some students who have other forms of financial aid that covers tuition, and are expecting a direct disbursement of their state grant to help with books or off-campus living expenses, the university is unable to issue a direct disbursement or ‘refund’ of the expected grant. This is because the state grant funding has not yet been sent to Penn State, or to other Pennsylvania colleges and universities,” she said.

The issue is the latest impact from the budget stalemate.

Gov. Tom Wolf had pledged a giant bump in funding to Penn State and other education instituions, both at the school district and higher ed levels. But Republicans in the legislature, with Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, at the lead, are adamant that the best way to help all Pennsylvanians, including students and schools, is to resolve the ongoing pension issue.

Predictably, as the two sides are locking horns, Corman laid the blame for the refund issue at Wolf’s door.

“This is the problem with what the governor did by vetoing the entire budget,” he said, claiming that his side’s most recent proposal would have allowed the “money to move through the system.”

“He's had our offer for over a week, a major concession, major compromise. We said to the governor that if he accepts our revised pension plan that we put forward to him, we would find $300 million more for basic education. That's a victory in both directions for the schools,” said Corman. “It might not be to his perfect liking, but that's divided government.”

Wolf, on the other hand, has held tight to his proposal, wanting to up education funding by $2 billion over four years.

“We need to invest in education,” he said when he was talking about the subject at Wingate Elementary in March.