Grow PA

Grow PA: Post-Secondary Education and Career Preparation Reform

As young people in Pennsylvania increasingly seek education and job opportunities in other states, our Commonwealth faces significant economic and demographic challenges in the years ahead.

We have introduced a plan to help reverse these trends and help more young people stay in Pennsylvania to pursue high-demand careers, while limiting the cost of post-secondary education and job training programs. As a result, we will strengthen our workforce and make Pennsylvania much more competitive in attracting the best and brightest students to put down roots in our communities.

Grow PA Changes Our Approach to Higher Education, Career Preparation

The Grow PA plan helps make education more affordable and accessible for students who pursue high-demand careers in Pennsylvania. The package of bills creates new programs to recruit the best talent to Pennsylvania schools in industries that will grow Pennsylvania’s economy, while also expanding existing financial assistance programs that are already working.

Grow PA would help address the needs of students, families and the workforce and set Pennsylvania on a brighter course.

Senate Bill 1150 would create the Grow PA Scholarship Grant Program, which would offer grants of up to $5,000 per year for in-state students who attend college in Pennsylvania, pursue a degree in a high-demand industry, and agree to live and work in that industry in Pennsylvania after graduation.

Grant recipients would be required to live and work in Pennsylvania for at least 15 months for each year they accept the grant. Failure to meet this requirement would result in the grants being converted to a loan that must be repaid.

Senate Bill 1151 would create the Grow PA Merit Scholarship Program, which would help attract high-performing out-of-state students to Pennsylvania educational programs in Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools. The merit scholarships would allow students pursuing in-demand occupations to pay tuition at in-state rates, rather than out-of-state rates.

Like the scholarship program for in-state students, merit scholarship recipients would be required to live and work in Pennsylvania after graduation, or have the scholarships converted to loans.

Senate Bill 1152 would expand the popular Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to good students to cover the cost of post-secondary education. The bill would increase household income limits from $126,000 to $175,000 and allow students with at least a 2.5 GPA to qualify, making more students eligible for assistance.

Senate Bill 1153 would expand the Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program nationwide for children to attend PASSHE schools. Under current law, children in the foster care system and children who were adopted in Pennsylvania qualify for financial aid and tuition waivers. Expanding the program nationwide would allow adopted and foster children from other states to benefit from these programs in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 1154 would add performance-based metrics to funding for state-related universities, including the University of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania State University, and Temple University. Under the legislation, standards would be developed by a new Performance-based Funding Council that will consider factors like graduation rates, retention rates, employment rates and salaries, and other key indicators. The bill would add a critical layer of accountability to public dollars dedicated to these institutions.

Senate Bill 1155 would develop a special task force to review additional improvements to higher education and career preparation programs going forward, including increasing community college transfers, expanding dual enrollment, encouraging employer incentives, increasing student enrollment from other states, and boosting efficiencies in higher education.

Senate Bill 750 would require high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines eligibility for federal, state and school financial aid programs. Completing the FAFSA ensures families have access to vital information on aid packages for higher education, career and technical education, certificate programs, and more.

Pennsylvania has one of the lowest FAFSA completion rates in the nation, leaving many families without the ability to make informed decisions about pursuing college and job training programs. The National College Attainment Network estimates that $3.75 billion in federal Pell Grants went unclaimed nationwide in 2021 alone, including more than $115 million in Pennsylvania.

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