How a second state's five-month budget battle hurt colleges, students

More than 150,000 grant recipients waiting for their funds

Illinois isn't the only state that hasn't settled on a budget—Pennsylvania lawmakers have also been locked in a stalemate over its budget for months.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is negotiating with the Republican leaders of the state Senate and House.  While both sides report progress, they say it is slow going.

Meanwhile, colleges have seen their credit ratings downgraded and students have been unable to access some financial aid.

Last week, Moody's Investor's Service downgraded the Community College of Allegheny County and Butler County Community College from A1 to A3, and the Community College of Philadelphia from A1 to A2. Moody's cited the state budget issue as part of the reason for the decisions.

Also as a result of the budget crisis, more than 150,000 college students are waiting to receive grants funded by a state agency and frozen in place until a budget is passed. The grants are need-based and included in college financial aid packages, so many students and families rely on them as part of their overall plan for paying tuition.

Also see: State funding still has not returned to pre-recession levels

Some schools across the state are trying to help, for example, by not seeking payment from students for the delayed aid. But many students are taking on extra work hours or student loans to fill the gap (Murphy, Patriot-News, 10/30; Erdley, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 10/28; Erdley, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 8/12; Poupore, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 10/17).

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