Types of Financial Aid

PAFA offers assistance to eligible students in one or any combination of the following five forms: scholarships, grants, loans, veteran benefits, and work-study programs. In addition to financial aid that is awarded by PAFA, many outside groups sponsor private scholarships, loans, and grants.


Scholarships are awarded to applicants exhibiting artistic and academic merit. PAFA also supports distinguished awards and prestigious scholarship competitions rewarding talent and achievement.

Additionally, scholarships may be available from other sources: College Board Scholarships, FAST Web, Scholly, FinAid, and FindTuition are some of the many options available. Some external scholarships may require an application fee.


Grants are often called “gift aid” because they are free money—financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit-based.

Grants can be funded by the federal government, state governments, or PAFA. Do your research, apply for any grants or scholarships you might be eligible for, and be sure to meet application deadlines.

Occasionally you might have to pay back part or all of a federal or student grant if, for example, you withdraw from school before finishing an enrollment period such as a semester.

Federal Pell Grant

Federal Pell grants are awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or professional degree. Because they are grants, students are not responsible for repayment. Eligibility is determined according to need, the cost of attendance, and the amount of money appropriated by Congress to fund the program.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

The SEOG is available to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need and a low expected family contribution. Students are not responsible for repayment. The amount of the grant and the number of students who may receive it depending on the availability of funds from the U.S. Department of Education.

Educational Loans

Understanding how student loans work can help you decide whether they are right for you or not.

One of the benefits of federal student loans is a credit check is not required in most cases. Only PLUS loans require a credit check. Otherwise, anyone who attends school can receive federal student loans. Realize that you will pay interest on student loans.

With federal loans, the interest rate is set by Congress each year. Each academic year, you get a new loan, with an interest rate that remains fixed for the term of the loan. By the end of your time in school, you will have several student loans with different interest rates.

Failure to repay loans will result in a student default.

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans

William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans are another source of federal student aid. Loans may be obtained from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Loans obtained through this program are low-interest rate loans that are insured by guarantee agencies or the U.S. Department of Education.

Federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options, including, but not limited to, income-based repayment and income-contingent repayment plans, and loan forgiveness benefits, which other student loans are not required to provide. Federal Direct Loans are available to students regardless of income. A student can apply for Federal Direct Loans through the school’s financial aid department.

Student eligibility must be determined using the results of the FAFSA and a student must be enrolled in an approved program at least part-time status in order to participate in Federal Title IV programs. The loan must be used to pay for direct and/or indirect educational expenses.

Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

The Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan allows undergraduate and graduate students to borrow a Federal Stafford Loan, even if they did not demonstrate sufficient financial need for the subsidized version. The same terms and conditions as the Subsidized Stafford Loan apply except that the borrower is responsible for interest that accrues while they are in school and after leaving school.

Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan

Direct Subsidized Loans are federal student loans borrowed through the Direct Loans program that offer undergraduate students a low, fixed interest rate and flexible repayment terms. Demonstrated financial need is required to qualify for this type of loan. The federal government pays the interest when you are in school at least half-time, during the grace period, and during periods of authorized deferment.

Federal Parent PLUS Loan

The Parent PLUS Loan is available to dependent students to assist with educational expenses. This loan requires an application from the student’s mother or father. Students may not apply for the parent plus loan. PLUS loans are not based on financial need. They can be combined with other financial aid resources but cannot exceed the student’s cost of education. For more information, please visit studentaid.gov.

Federal Graduate PLUS Loan

The Graduate PLUS Loan is available to graduate students to assist with educational expenses. PLUS loans are not based on need. They can be combined with other financial aid resources and cannot exceed the student’s cost of education.  For more information, please visit studentaid.gov.

Work Study

Federal Work-Study

Federal Work Study provides part-time jobs for full-time students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study.

If you’re interested in getting a Federal Work-Study job while you’re enrolled at PAFA, make sure you contact the Financial Aid office early in order to get this award. PAFA participates in the Federal Work-Study Program and award funds on a first-come, first-served basis.

If awarded Federal Work Study, you’ll earn at least the current federal minimum wage for your hourly rate. However, you may earn more depending on the type of work you do and the skills required for the position. The amount you earn can’t exceed your total Federal Work-Study award and cannot exceed 20 hours per week. When assigning work hours, your supervisor will consider your class schedule and your academic progress.

PHEAA State Work-Study

Pennsylvania has its own State Work-Study Program outside of Federal Work-Study. The program is open to all PA resident students, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. This is an additional opportunity to earn money for school and experience for the real world.

Tuition Remission

Many employers pay all or part of tuition costs for employees, and, in some cases, employees' spouses. If you hold a full or part-time job, check with your employer's human resources office for tuition reimbursement options.

Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program

The Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program provides a waiver for tuition and mandatory fees charged by most postsecondary institutions located in the Commonwealth for youth who are or were in foster care. The waiver applies only to charges that remain after all other gift aid (federal, state, and other scholarships or grants) have been applied to the student's account. Please visit www.pheaa.org or read the PDF below for more information.

The Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program

Veterans Benefits

PAFA honors the following education benefits for active-duty service members, reservists, veterans of the armed forces, spouses, and their dependents:

  • The Montgomery GI Bill® (MGIB) reimburses tuition costs through an educational assistance allowance.
  • The Post-9/11 GI Bill applies direct funds to cover a portion of costs for tuition, fees, and books.
  • The VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program offers benefits to veterans with service-connected disabilities.
  • The Dependents Educational Assistance Program (DEA) offers benefits to dependents of service members who are permanently disabled due to a service-related condition or who died while on active duty.
  • The Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) provides benefits to members of the Reserve called to active duty in response to a war or natural disaster.
  • The Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) provides education and training opportunities to eligible persons who contributed to the program while on active duty.

To apply for education benefits with the VA, the veterans, service members, reservists, and spouses/dependents of a veteran may use the Veterans On-Line Application (VONAPP) website. Please retain a copy for your files.

Apply for VA Education Benefits

After completing the VONAPP (allow 2-3 weeks for processing), you will receive a “Certificate of Eligibility” letter in the mail from the Department of Veterans Affairs, which you must submit to PAFA’s Registrar along with Certificate of Eligibility forms.

Veterans are subject to the same rules and regulations that govern other students. Absences and tardiness will be reported to the VA in accordance with current VA directives. A veteran or an eligible person who, at the end of two consecutive quarters on probation, has failed to earn a grade point average of 2.0 will have his/her VA educational benefits terminated.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.”

VA Work-Study

The VA Work-Study Program provides an opportunity for students to work on campus to support their fellow veterans. Students must be actively using one of the military benefits listed below in order to be eligible. For more detailed information regarding benefit programs please contact the Registrar or visit www.gibill.va.gov.

VA work-study is available to persons (Veterans and transfer-of-entitlement recipients) on a full-time or three-quarter-time basis under the following programs:

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill (38 U.S.C. Chapter 33)
  • Montgomery GI Bill (38 U.S.C. Chapter 30): Active Duty
  • REAP Participants
  • Montgomery GI Bill (10 U.S.C. Chapter 1606): Selected Reserve
  • Post-Vietnam Era Veterans' Educational Assistance Program (38 U.S.C. Chapter 32)
  • Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (38 U.S.C. Chapter 35)
  • National Call to Service Participants

Eligible dependents under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 35 may use work-study only while training in a State.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (38 U.S.C. Chapter 31)

PAFA follows Veterans Administration (VA) regulations and related military regulations regarding student financial aid and academic affairs for veteran and military students. Eligible veterans and dependents, as defined by the VA, can be accepted for education. Eligible veterans and dependents may file an application with the VA.

Private and Alternative Educational Loans

Students who have exhausted their federal financial aid and who require additional assistance may apply for alternative or private loans from lending institutions. Some lenders offer lower rates than federal loans so it’s important that you do you research in order to decide which private loan is best for you. PAFA has a preferred lender list where the lenders provide the loan information available for comparison.