Senator Ward, J E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • New Law Gives Young Adults Strong Financial Literacy Foundation
  • Sharing the Holiday Spirit with PA Veterans
  • FAFSA Update
  • Driving Safely During Inclement Weather
  • Merry Christmas to You and Yours
  • Out and About in the 30th

New Law Gives Young Adults Strong Financial Literacy Foundation

Legislation to provide students with basic money management skills was recently signed into law. Specifically, it requires completion of a half-credit personal finance course to graduate high school.

Recent estimates calculate there are more than 350 million American-owned credit card accounts, and, on average, credit card owners have about four cards apiece. Families in the United States are approaching approximately $1 trillion dollars in credit card debt and more than $15 trillion dollars in debt overall.

The course will give high school students the understanding they need about topics like credit and credit scores; savings and investments; college, home and auto loans; and planning for postsecondary education and retirement.

Sharing the Holiday Spirit with PA Veterans

If you would like to support our veterans and military families this holiday season, making a monetary donation goes a long way toward helping the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provide members, veterans and their families with essential programs and services that would not be available otherwise.

Donations can be made by mail or online. They are tax-deductible, and gifts of any amount are appreciated. Learn more about making a donation.

FAFSA Update

Federal Student Aid (FSA) recently announced a few important updates regarding the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Application that will be available by December 31st.  Below, please find a few highlights I wanted to bring to your attention:

  • The newly overhauled 2024-25 FAFSA will be open to students and families by December 31, 2023.
  • FSA announced that the days before and after December 31 will serve as a “soft launch” period to “monitor and respond in real time to potential issues” with the 2024-25 FAFSA application.
  • FSA stressed that users do not need to rush to complete the application as soon as the soft launch is available.
  • Because they are expecting large volumes of applicants applying at one time, and to ensure optimal performance and to control web traffic, FSA will include a waiting room feature during the soft launch period.
  • If a student completes their form during this soft launch period, their information will be stored for processing. They do NOT need to return to resubmit their application after the soft launch concludes.
  • FSA will initiate planned pauses for site maintenance and to make updates as needed to create a better FAFSA experience for students and families.
  • If FSA initiates site maintenance while an applicant (student or contributor) is completing an application, they will be able to continue until they have completed the application.
  • Students will not receive a FAFSA Submission Summary (used to be Student Aid Report) until FSA process the FAFSA, beginning in late January.
  • Institutions will not receive FAFSA data until late January 2024.  This means that schools will not be sending financial aid offers to admitted students until sometime in February. 

2024-25 FAFSA Soft Launch Details and Timelines: 2024–25 FAFSA Soft Launch Details and Timelines | Knowledge Center

Driving Safely During Inclement Weather

Pennsylvania has nearly 40,000 miles of roads – which translates to 96,000 snow-lane miles – that must be maintained during inclement weather so people can travel safely.

The approximately 2,200 PennDOT-owned and rented plow trucks have in-truck technology that logs and shares data in real time so the public can monitor the routes of their interstate and expressway travels on

Of course, drivers should avoid the roads until they have been cleared, if possible. Anyone who must travel is urged to use extra caution by slowing down, increasing their following distance and avoiding distractions. Read more winter driving tips here.

Merry Christmas to You and Yours

This holiday season, I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. May you enjoy the real gifts of love, peace and happiness.

My district office hours may be limited due to the holidays. Please call ahead to be sure my offices are open.

Also, PennDOT Driver License Centers will be closed on Dec. 23 and 25 for Christmas, and on Dec. 30 and Jan. 1 for New Year’s. Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website.

Out and About in the 30th

I participated in the Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Martinsburg, Blair County. I was honored to read the names of the heroes that were laid to rest in that cemetery. I met Ava from Longer Elementary School who has been named “Miss Military” and is completing 150 hours of community service for veterans. What an awesome young girl!

I expressed my immense gratitude with a Senate citation for Blair County Commissioner, Bruce Erb, on his well-deserved retirement that he will begin after 8 years as commissioner and over 40 years in the banking industry prior to being elected as commissioner. Bruce has been a strong leader in handling of the financial aspect of our county. Bruce has been a mentor, a community partner, and a friend. Best wishes Bruce!

Recently I visited with teachers and students at East Juniata High School. Students from FFA, National Honor Society and Student provided a tour of the school. I visited many classrooms including English, Math, Social Studies, Computer classes as well as wood shop and home economics, where the students were designing cookies.

It was nice to stop in at The EADS Group’s holiday open house in Lewistown!

Members of the community honored Palmer Brown for his 26 year service to the Blair County Agricultural Land Preservation Board and the Commonwealth’s Farmland Preservation Program. I presented him with a Senate citation for all he has done for the community.

It was an exciting time at the 39th Annual PA Chamber Dinner in Hershey, where PA native Bradley Cooper was the guest speaker and entertainment was provided by country music artist, Gabby Barrett, also from PA!


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