Gov. Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Chancellor Frank T. Brogan and Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks) Wednesday were joined by students, lawmakers and postsecondary education leaders at Delaware Valley College to share details about and advocate for the "Ready to Succeed" Scholarship program.
This merit-based program would provide financial assistance to middle-income students attending any postsecondary education institution in Pennsylvania.
"All too often, students from middle-income families do not qualify for state financial aid," Corbett said. "The 'Ready to Succeed' Scholarship will help to reduce the amount of debt students incur while pursuing a postsecondary education."
Included in Gov. Corbett's proposed 2014-15 state budget, the "Ready to Succeed" Scholarship would be open to students whose family has a gross income of up to $110,000, annually adjusted for inflation.
House Bill 1213, authored by Rep. Quinn, would create the "Ready to Succeed" Scholarship within the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).
Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and will be available to students entering their sophomore, junior or senior year in college. Eligible students must have and maintain a grade point average of 3.25.
Up to $2,000 annually would be awarded to full-time students and up to $1,000 each year would be awarded to part-time students.
"Because so many community college students rely on financial aid to achieve their higher educational goals, Pennsylvania's 14 community colleges appreciate this effort to make college more accessible and affordable," said Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt, president, Bucks County Community College.
"This commitment to education is commendable and will make it possible for students like me to attend college," said Rebecca Jones, a biology major and the student government board president at Delaware Valley College.
"College classes can be challenging. Paying for college is also a challenge. It's encouraging that the state is considering doing more to help students like me," said Francis Bitting, a business psychology major at Holy Family University.
It's estimated that 80 percent of scholarship recipients have not previously received financial assistance through the PHEAA State Grant program.
"The 14 State System of Higher Education universities are dedicated to providing high-quality, affordable educational opportunities to Pennsylvania's families," said Frank T. Brogan, chancellor, State System of Higher Education. "Gov. Corbett's proposed program would help many of our students achieve their dream of earning a college degree while reducing their potential debt. The Board of Governors and I applaud this initiative and encourage the General Assembly to support this kind of smart, targeted investment in Pennsylvania's future."
"Many of our students and their families struggle to pay tuition expenses. They will now be able to complete their education at Metropolitan Career Center," said Amy Miller, executive director, Metropolitan Career Center. "Without this additional funding, many students would not be able to complete their education."
Gov. Corbett is committed to working with lawmakers to ensure that this program is included in the final 2014-15 state budget."It is imperative that the 'Ready to Succeed' Scholarship remains part of the final budget agreement," Corbett said. "I want thank Rep. Quinn for introducing legislation to move this proposal forward. I also want to thank the students, lawmakers and higher education leaders who joined with me today in support of this initiative."