PHEAA Eligibility Requirements

The basic eligibility requirements determined by PHEAA when they receive your application are:

  • 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. At Bucks County Community College, that means students must be enrolled in an Associate Degree Program
  • Be a U.S. high school graduate or the recipient of a GED
  • Be a Pennsylvania resident (domiciliary)
  • Meet application deadline by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by May 1st of the academic year student is attending.

PHEAA State Grant award notices should be considered as estimates. Even after you have received a PHEAA State Grant award notice, PHEAA requires the College to conduct additional eligibility checks. PHEAA will send the College an official listing of all students awarded State Grants at the beginning of each semester (including Summer). Your State Grant will appear on your financial aid award as "estimated" until we receive the listing and your eligibility is confirmed. The following are some of the eligibility checks that will be made by Financial Aid Staff at the College prior to any State Grant funds being disbursed to your account.

Additional School Certification Eligibility Requirements

Enrollment Status:     PHEAA considers full-time status as at least 12 credits in a semester and half-time status as at least 6 credits in a semester. Enrollment status can also be impacted by the individual courses selected. Please read information on "Remedial Exception" and "Distance Learning" (below).

Definition of a Semester Length:     PHEAA defines a semester as approximately 17 weeks in length. Therefore, if you are taking modular courses at the College, either the amount of State Grant you receive or the date you receive it could be affected. For example, if you are taking 6 credits, one is a regular semester length and the other is modular starting in March, the College is required to withhold applying your State Grant until the first day of the accelerated course.

Distance Learning:     PHEAA requires State Grant recipients to earn at least 50% of their program of study through classroom instruction. Distance learning or on-line courses are monitored by the College on a semester basis to ensure this requirement is met. Therefore, to be considered for a State Grant, a student must take at least 6 credits in a semester, 3 of which must be regular degree credits taken through classroom instruction. If at any point during a student's program of study it is determined more than 50% of coursework earned was taken by means other than classroom instruction, PHEAA requires the College to return all State Grant funds from current and prior years. For example, a student in their first year of an associate degree program receives two full-time State Grants in the Fall and Spring semesters earning a total of 30 credits. The student earned 15 of those credits through classroom instruction. The second year (Fall and Spring), the student enrolls in a total of 30 credits all through on-line courses. Since the student has not enrolled in at least 50% classroom instruction in the second year, they are not eligible for a State Grant and PHEAA requires all State Grant funds from the first year to be refunded.

Summer State Grant Eligibility:     In addition to all other eligibility criteria, due to the length of the summer sessions, students at Bucks County Community College must be registered in at least 3 credits during Summer I and 3 credits during Summer II to be considered for a Summer State Grant. PHEAA also requires the College to withhold applying the Summer State Grant to a student's account until the after the first day of the Summer II session.

Remedial Exception:     If a student is taking remedial / developmental or ESL courses, they must also take at least 3 regular degree credits in a semester to be considered for a State Grant. A student is only eligible to receive this type of combined credit payment (remedial exception) for 2 full-time or 4 part-time semesters. After you have received this maximum number of exceptions, only regular degree credits can be used when determining your enrollment status for a State Grant.

Academic Progress:     To be considered for a State Grant a student must meet PHEAA's academic progress requirement. This requirement applies to students who have received a State Grant in a prior academic year. If the student received this State Grant at a different institution, an academic transcript is required to confirm academic progress was met. For the most recent year a student received a State Grant, they must have successfully completed at least 12 credits for each full-time term of State Grant previously received and/or 6 credits for each part-time term of State Grant. For example, if a student received two full-time terms of State Grant in a prior year (Fall and Spring semesters), PHEAA requires they successfully complete at least 24 credits to be eligible for the current year State Grant.

Change in Enrollment Status:     A change in enrollment status can affect a student's eligibility for a State Grant. The following are some examples of enrollment status changes that may result in an adjustment to a student's State Grant award during a semester:

  • Drop from full-time to half-time
  • Drop from half-time to less than half time
  • Withdrawal
  • Switching from a regular degree course to one that is remedial or ESL
  • Switching from a course taken through classroom instruction to one that is distance learning

Gift Aid Test:     PHEAA requires a student's total gift aid not to exceed PHEAA's determined cost of attendance at the College. Gift aid includes any grant money received that does not have to be repaid. Examples of gift aid include, but are not limited to Federal Pell Grant, scholarships and tuition remission or reimbursement. In the event a student's gift aid exceeds the cost of attendance, PHEAA requires the College to report the results of the test. The State Grant funds will not be applied to the student's account until the adjusted State Grant amount has been confirmed by PHEAA.

Reduced Costs:     If a student's cost of tuition and fees is reduced by an appeal due to a medical withdrawal, the amount of State Grant funds awarded may be adjusted. PHEAA requires the College to report such reduced costs and withhold applying the State Grant funds until the awarded amount has been adjusted accordingly. In the event the State Grant was applied, a student may owe the College for the amount that is returned to PHEAA.

Maximum Number of Awards:     A student is only eligible for 4 years (8 full-time or 16 part-time semesters) of State Grant aid in their lifetime. PHEAA only allows students to receive 2 years of State Grant in a two-year program. Therefore, students attending Bucks County Community College will lose State Grant eligibility for your associate degree once you have received 4 full-time or 8 part-time semesters of State Grant.

How to Contact PHEAA or Check the Status of Your State Grant:     You can contact PHEAA or view the status of your State Grant to their website. If you have not already done so, use the "Sign In/Create an Account" section to create an on-line account.