Harrisburg, May 24, 2018 – State Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) today said he is pleased with the PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency) board decision to use additional reserve funds to maintain grants to students at the current amounts.

Without the action, it was anticipated that grant support to students would be cut by up to 25 percent for the 2018-19 school year.

“This grant funding is a financial lifeline for many students,” Fontana said. “It is imperative that we at least maintain support at current levels.”

Fontana, who serves as vice-chairman of the board, said the funding strain is due to flat state funding in the face of increased requests for support and additional educational funding obligations. To hold student grant funding harmless, the board agreed to allocate $56 million in fiscal 2019-20 reserve dollars to the 2018-19 funding pool. The decision was reached after PHEAA personnel had several meetings with members of the four state Appropriations Committees, the state budget secretary and chairman and vice chairman of its board.  

“While this move will shield students from funding cutbacks next year, it is imperative that we seek ways to assure the program’s long term fiscal viability,” Fontana said.

The Allegheny County lawmaker thanked the agency’s budget officials for their work on the resolution, which the board approved today. Fontana also thanked fellow board members for their dedication and bipartisan work on behalf of students.

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