Subscribe to this e-update.
Boscola Bulletin

School Counselor Financial Aid Workshops

School Counselor Financial Aid WorkshopsThe Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) and the Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PASFAA) are once again hosting Financial Aid Workshops for school counselors.  The workshops are free of charge and will provide the latest information on financial aid for post-secondary education.  Attendees will be provided with a workshop handbook, handouts and materials.

Due to the increasing cost of higher education, it is more important than ever for counselors to understand the financial aid application process and the availability of financial aid for students. Federal grants and loans, the Pennsylvania State Grant and special programs, campus-based aid, financial literacy and emerging trends in student aid and the workforce will all be addressed during this vital training session.  

Workshops are being offered at 40 locations throughout the state during the months of September and October.  To view a list of dates and sites, and to register for the workshop of your choice please click here.

On-site check-in the day of the workshop will be conducted from 8:30 – 9 a.m., with complimentary refreshments being served.  Workshops will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude by 12:15 p.m.

Anyone wishing to attend should register at least one week prior to the date of the workshop you wish to attend.  Upon registration, you will receive an email confirmation with workshop location, directions and parking information. If you need to cancel or change your registration, please email with your changes.

PHEAA will no longer award Act 48 credits for our Counselor Workshops.   They will be providing all attendees with a letter confirming workshop attendance.  School staff may use the letter to submit for the three hours if they choose to do so.

PA Forward

Most college students look forward to summer break and a reprieve from the classroom, but few have the resources needed to take the “summer off” from one of their most difficult challenges: paying for their postsecondary education. 

A postsecondary education can be expensive, but it is undeniably an investment worth making.  Whether a student attends The University of Pittsburgh, The Community College of Allegheny County, learns a trade, or receives a 4-year degree from the University of Pittsburgh, education is the key to a better future.

Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), in cooperation with the PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) and State Treasurer Joe Torsella, have launched the PA Forward Student Loan Program.

PA Forward Student Loan ProgramPA Forward is a new suite of affordable private student loan programs specifically created to help Pennsylvania families cover the full cost of higher education, without getting buried in unnecessary debt.

Students and families in Allegheny County could benefit from this home-grown program more than ever. According to a 2012 Lumina Foundation study, Americans with associate degrees earn 51% more annually than high school graduates with no college degree, and bachelor’s degree holders earn 134% more annually. Those who attain degrees are more likely to be employed, have health insurance, vote in elections, and even live longer, and are less likely to be incarcerated.

Currently, 46.4% of Pennsylvanians have obtained their postsecondary education, including high-quality certificate programs and degrees.  However, it is estimated that 60% of Pennsylvanians will need to obtain a postsecondary education by 2025, in order to meet the future workforce needs of the Commonwealth.

Additionally, low-income, first-generation students must often overcome difficult barriers when attaining their degree of choice. These barriers can be even higher for people of color. The annual Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States report was recently published, which examines circumstances that can result in challenging situations for those seeking to improve themselves via higher education. The report demonstrates how the cost burden of a degree is shifting to students and families, since there is less state and federal funding for institutions of higher education, as compared to prior decades.

At the same time, Federal Pell Grants cover less of the cost of attending college than ever before. In 2017, the Pell Grant covered about 25% of college costs, down from 67% in 1976. As a result, more students and their families are borrowing to pay for college than ever before. The report also found that African American bachelor’s degree recipients have both the highest borrowing rates (85%) and the highest average amount borrowed ($34,000).
Clearly, the rising cost of college means that private student loans are increasingly necessary for many after eligibility for grants, scholarships, campus-based aid, and low-cost federal student loans are exhausted.

Under PA Forward, PHEAA makes borrower-friendly private student loans to Pennsylvania students and parents at competitively low rates and with superior repayment benefits.  Students can borrow up to the total cost of attendance with no application or origination fees, flexible repayment options, interest rate reductions for successful graduation, additional rate reductions for enrolling in automatic debt, and no late fees during repayment.  Students pursuing a degree, diploma or certificate for completing certain training programs for tradesmen and women can qualify for a loan as well.

The PA Forward Student Loan Program will make borrowing more affordable in Pennsylvania.  However, students must also understand that the key to borrowing wisely is to do so only when it’s necessary. Again, low-cost, federal student loans should be the first option after all eligibility for gift aid is exhausted. 

After careful consideration of the costs and options for financing college, and the many long-term positive returns on a college degree, student loans are increasingly the only way forward for many students. When this is the case, we are working to make sure students have the tools and resources needed to make smart choices, including PHEAA’s new PA Forward Student Loan Program.  To learn more about the program, visit

What is a 529 Plan?

PA 529529 plans help families save for education. The name "529" refers to Section 529 of the IRS tax code, which gives these plans special tax breaks to encourage saving.

There's no doubt your children or grandchildren will benefit from education. Studies show that a college degree is worth nearly a million dollars in lifetime earnings. Saving for education is an investment in their future.

Two ways to save. The Pennsylvania 529 College and Career Savings Program offers two savings plans. The PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) is a lower-risk plan that helps your savings keep pace with rising higher education tuition. The PA 529 Investment Plan (IP) lets you choose from 17 investment options from The Vanguard Group. Compare plans.

Easy to set up and easy to use. You can use a 529 plan to pay for qualified higher education expenses at most colleges and universities, and many technical and career schools. You may also use the money to pay for tuition expenses up to $10,000 at elementary or secondary public, private, or religious schools. There are no income limits, and anyone can contribute. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends can all help your student pay for education.

Join the Conversation on Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest news and updates.

Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
458 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)
Facebook Twitter Instagram