PA has eliminated scholarship displacement for public colleges and universities

My apologies if this has already been posted elsewhere since it happened a couple of weeks ago, but if not, it can be good for folks to know about - especially those who give advice to others or who are looking, themselves, at public colleges in PA. It will positively affect many students around me. I’m really glad our state made the change! Hopefully others will too.

On Friday July 8, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law HB1642, a sprawling public school system bill which includes a ban on scholarship displacement at public colleges and universities. This makes Pennsylvania the fourth state in the country to eliminate the practice of public colleges and universities reducing a student’s financial aid package when the student receives a private scholarship.


Do you know if this includes Pitt, Penn State, and Temple which are considered state related or is it just the smaller true state universities? I know they are funded through two different methods so wondering if the ruling applies to all. I couldn’t tell from the article.

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I guess I’m not 100% sure, but I believe it does since people were talking about it in the same reference as Penn St. I googled the Bill’s # and state related is used in the statement:

providing for State-related university performance-based funding model and for prohibition on scholarship displacement at public institutions of higher education;

What I’m not sure is if it will also apply to OOS students.


What did PASSHE and CSHE schools do previously?

Of course, they have a reputation of not having good in-state financial aid to begin with.

Like most other schools, if you got an outside scholarship the aid from the college was typically reduced dollar for dollar. That 1K scholarship you got from the local credit union was worthless if you were getting financial aid. It only saved the college money.

Lots of colleges first replace student loan and student work assumption (or work-study) with outside scholarships, before replacing financial aid grants (see List of outside scholarship + financial aid policies ("stacking", "scholarship displacement") ). A college that first replaces financial aid grants would seem to be worse than typical.

Of course, if the outside scholarships exceeded student loan and student work assumption, then it is more common for colleges to replace financial aid grants with the outside scholarships.

It looks like University of Pittsburgh already replaced financial aid grants last (i.e. only if total aid exceeded cost of attendance), though that may not have been the case for other CSHE or PASSHE schools, and University of Pittsburgh’s financial aid grants were generally not very good to begin with.

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Since my kids didn’t go public in-state, I’m not super familiar with exactly which order things were replaced with, I just know I heard from multiple students that outside scholarships were a waste of time for them due to it cutting their college aid. The only exceptions were the local scholarships that paid the student directly - then they merely kept the money. I think technically they were supposed to report it, but in reality…

Kids who are full pay or solely get merit aid didn’t have the problems. Need based aid did.

Of our state related schools, Temple tends to give the best aid, but many students don’t care for the specific location in Philly. Pitt is second and can give good aid to very high stat students. Penn St is notoriously bad. Since it’s such a loved institution within the state, they likely have no need to be good with aid. The latter two get a lot of love from many students, but affording them can be iffy.

Affording the PASSHE schools can be iffy for many of our students too. I think the same bill put more money into scholarships, but haven’t heard the specifics to know that for sure.


Also, Penn State is in commuting range of far fewer (potential) students than Temple or Pittsburgh, so that is another barrier to affordability. Affording many of the PASSHE schools can be difficult partially for the same reason, since the state’s rugged terrain makes them more difficult to commute to from outside of the major metro areas.