Zina Kumok Image Written By: Zina Kumok | Edited By: Kevin Ladd | Updated: June 16, 2024

Pennsylvania Scholarships

Pittsburgh Cityscape at Night

Pennsylvania is one of the most historic states in the country. It’s the home of Benjamin Franklin, the Liberty Bell and Gettysburg. Unfortunately, it's also known for how much student loan debt residents have. Pennsylvania has one of the highest student loan debt burden averages at $39,375 per borrower. And when you factor in accrued interest, the total amount you'll pay back might be even higher. If you're planning on attending school in Pennsylvania, you should maximize your scholarships to ensure you don’t graduate with tens of thousands in costly debt.

Continue reading the article below the scholarship list.

25 Pennsylvania Scholarships with Approaching Deadlines

What is a Pennsylvania scholarship?

There is no one standard for a Pennsylvania scholarship. A Pennsylvania scholarship is generally given to a student who is from Pennsylvania or who is attending school there. Some Pennsylvania scholarships are only given to students who are both current residents and attending school in the state. However, not every scholarship has that requirement.

Pennsylvania scholarships can have both merit- and financial-need components. Others may also have more intense geographic requirements.

Where to find Pennsylvania scholarships

Pennsylvania scholarships are available from many different sources. The school you apply to will usually have its own list of internal scholarships. These may be either need- or merit-based.

For example, the University of Pittsburgh has its own scholarship database for current or incoming students. If you're not sure where your school's scholarship database is, contact the financial aid department. They should have more specific guidance on how you can qualify for scholarships.

Third-party scholarships can be found from both nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies. These can be a powerful and lucrative source for scholarships, even if you’re searching for local Pennsylvania awards.

The directory at Scholarships.com is another great resource. You can also find other scholarships beyond just the basic state-based scholarships. Make sure to create an account so you'll get notified when a scholarship that meets your background comes up.

Don't forget to use a basic Google search as a scholarship finding tool. Make a list of attributes, skills and interests you have and add the word “Pennsylvania scholarship” to your search query. You may be surprised at what comes up. If you're still in high school, you should also talk to your guidance counselor about any scholarship opportunities.

How to apply for Pennsylvania scholarships

One of the first steps to take when applying for a Pennsylvania scholarship is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the official form from the federal government that grants access to federal student loans, grants and work-study, based on demonstrated financial need.

What many students don't know is that the FAFSA is also your golden ticket to scholarships. Not only do many schools require that you submit the FAFSA to qualify for their own internal awards, but some third-party organizations also require the FAFSA. There’s no reason not to complete the FAFSA unless you’re not eligible.

Also, make sure to submit the FAFSA by the state’s financial aid deadline which is XX. You should also check your school’s financial aid deadline, which may be sooner than the state’s deadline. Remember, some scholarships are only given on a first-come, first-serve basis so don’t delay in submitting the FAFSA.

When applying to school, many schools will automatically consider you for scholarships just by you submitting your regular application. However, some may also have additional forms you need to complete to be eligible.

What are the requirements for a Pennsylvania scholarship?

Pennsylvania scholarships often require basic demographic and contact information. They may also ask for one (or more) essay(s) and a recommendation letter from an adult who knows you well.

Some scholarships have different requirements. While many scholarships require an essay, others may not.

For example, the Road to Safety Scholarship asks that students submit a creative project explaining why driving safely should be important for teens. For this scholarship, you are not allowed to submit a traditional written essay. Instead, you must provide a video, painting, song, poem or other type of creative work. This scholarship is worth $1,000.

Pennsylvania Scholarships FAQs

When should I apply for Pennsylvania scholarships?

One of the biggest mistakes that students make is waiting to find out how much they'll receive in financial aid before applying for separate scholarships. You should not wait and hope that your school will automatically grant you a full ride. Instead, you should be proactive and apply for awards before you've even heard if you've been accepted to college. There are many scholarships that have deadlines that are sooner than the school’s official deadline.

Students also frequently assume that scholarships are only for incoming freshmen. But there are scholarships for every year. A general rule of thumb is to start looking for scholarships in your freshman year of high school, even though there won't be many available awards. The sooner you begin the process, the more likely it is that you'll get enough financial aid to minimize your loan burden.

Are there Pennsylvania scholarships for certain minority groups?

Many Pennsylvania scholarships are available to students from any kind of background. However, others will have more specific requirements. If you're part of any kind of ethnic, racial or gender diversity group, you may be able to find special Pennsylvania scholarships geared toward these groups.

For example, the Poise Foundation offers several different scholarships for African-American students. There are both general African-American Awards, as well as awards for students who are studying a specific field.

Also, many women qualify for special Pennsylvania scholarships. For example, the AAUW Carlisle Higher Education Scholarship is given to a female student with demonstrated financial need who has lived in either Cumberland or Perry County, Pennsylvania for at least one year. This scholarship is worth $2,000. Two-year, four-year and graduate students are eligible.

Do you have to attend a public school in Pennsylvania to get a Pennsylvania scholarship?

Many Pennsylvania scholarships only have a geographic requirement: either you have to be from Pennsylvania or attend school in Pennsylvania to qualify. However, there are some awards that require students fulfill both parts and attend a public school.

For example, the Pennsylvania Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program provides scholarships to students whose parents died while acting as a police officer, firefighter or as an ambulance worker. Students must be Pennsylvania residents and attend a school in Pennsylvania that is a Pennsylvania community college or a four-year state school.

This is one of the most generous scholarships on this list. Students will have their full tuition, fees and on-campus room and board paid for with this award.

In-state public schools are also often less expensive than private schools. However, if you have demonstrated financial need you may still receive a general financial aid package from private schools.

Do you have to attend school in Pennsylvania to win a Pennsylvania scholarship?

There are some Pennsylvania scholarships that don't mandate that you enroll in a Pennsylvania school to qualify. For example, the New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) Scholarship Program is given to a female student who is interested in the communication field. Awards range between $2,500 and $10,000. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible. Students must live in one of the following states to qualify:

Do you have to be from Pennsylvania to win a Pennsylvania scholarship?

While many Pennsylvania scholarships are only available to students who are from the Keystone State, others are more lenient in who can apply.

What are the best Pennsylvania scholarships?

There are many generous scholarship programs for Pennsylvania students. For example, the PA State Grant Program provides awards to students. For the 2023-24 school year, the amount was $4,818 for the year or $2,409 per semester.

You must have demonstrated financial need to qualify for these scholarships. Award amounts can vary depending on how much funding is available and your individual financial need. These scholarships can be renewed for multiple years as long as you still qualify. Students must take at least six credit hours to be eligible.

Students who attend school outside of Pennsylvania are eligible to receive a smaller scholarship than students who stay local. These awards range between $500 and $800.

Are there scholarships for students from specific Pennsylvania counties or cities?

Many Pennsylvania scholarships are open to students who live anywhere within state lines. However, others have firm geographic limits.

For example, the Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship is only available to students who are from Pittsburgh and attended four years of high school in the Steel City. You must also plan to attend college in Pennsylvania. This scholarship is worth $20,000.

If you currently live in Pennsylvania, do a Google search for your city or county along with the word “scholarship.” You may be surprised at how many awards you find. If you or your parents are members of any local organizations, see if they offer scholarships to students.

Are Pennsylvania scholarships available for community college students?

Four-year students may have more access to scholarships, but there are still tons of opportunities for Pennsylvania community college students. Through the Octavius Catto Scholarship, students will receive free tuition, along with extra funds for textbooks, transportation, and food.

Are Pennsylvania scholarships available for graduate or professional students?

When you think about who is eligible for scholarships, most people assume they are only available for students getting a bachelor’s degree. But undergraduate students aren’t the only ones who can get a scholarship.

Many scholarships provide awards for graduate and professional students. Like other scholarships, they may require you to submit the FAFSA to qualify.

Are there specific Pennsylvania scholarships for certain majors or degrees?

The PSGC Statewide Undergraduate Scholarship is available for students studying STEM. This is a $4,000 scholarship for junior or senior students attending an accredited Pennsylvania school.

Can I get a Pennsylvania scholarship if I’m an international student?

International students may find it harder to qualify for scholarships, but there are still some opportunities. For example, the University of Pennsylvania will pay 100% of the tuition for an international student with demonstrated financial need.

Can DACA students receive Pennsylvania scholarships?

Having DACA status can make qualifying for financial aid much harder. DACA students cannot receive federal financial aid. However, they are able to fill out the FAFSA as long as they have a Social Security Number. They may need to submit a paper version of the FAFSA if their parents don’t have a Social Security Number.

However, DACA students can still receive in-state tuition if they qualify as Pennsylvania residents, meaning that they have attended a high school in Pennsylvania for four years and have a high school degree or GED from Pennsylvania. Some schools, like Penn State University, may not offer special financial aid to DACA students. If you have DACA status, look for scholarships that are specifically geared toward undocumented students. These can help you find the financial support that you need.

What is the minimum GPA for a Pennsylvania scholarship?

Many scholarships have GPA requirements that students must hit to be eligible. A typical GPA requirement is a 3.0. However, this can also vary depending on the exact scholarship you’re applying for.

For example, York College of Pennsylvania has several scholarships that only require a 2.0 or 2.5 GPA. Some scholarships may also have different rules on the GPA you need to have as a high school student compared with the GPA for a college student. The minimum required college GPA may be lower than the cut-off high school GPA. Make sure to understand what the GPA requirements are, especially if your GPA is below a 3.0.