Senate Approves Landmark Scholarship Legislation

Program would help students in low-performing schools

HARRISBURG – The state Senate late yesterday approved landmark legislation containing language sponsored by Sen. Judy Ward (R-30) and Senator Anthony Williams (D-8) that would offer scholarships to students in the commonwealth’s lowest-performing schools so they can access better educational opportunities.

“I am immensely proud of my Senate colleagues for supporting this historic legislation.  These scholarships can offer parents and students the hope that comes with a quality education,” Ward said. “Our children are our most valuable asset, and education is their most valuable tool.  They should not be destined to a poor education just because of the zip code they live in.”

Ward and William’s Senate Bill 795, which was included as part of House Bill 479, would establish the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) Scholarship Program in Pennsylvania. PASS scholarships would provide funding for children in kindergarten through the 12th grade in the lowest 15% of schools in statewide performance standards.

The program, which would be administered by the Department of the Treasury, would provide $2,500 scholarships for students in half-day kindergarten; $5,000 for students in kindergarten through the 8th grade; $10,000 for students in the 9th through 12th grade; and $12,000 for students with special needs.

Scholarships would be available to students living in households with an income below 250% of the federal poverty level, which equates to $75,000 this year for a family of four.

The legislation has the potential to help students in 382 schools across 79 school districts.

The annual state budget bill, which also is making its way through the legislative process this week, is expected to provide $100 million in funding for the PASS Program. The new state fiscal year begins July 1.

“I urge the Democrats in the House to put the children of Pennsylvania first, make this bill a priority, take swift action and get it to the governor’s desk so he can sign it into law,” Ward said. “Pennsylvania students trapped in underperforming schools cannot wait any longer for this to opportunity at a brighter future to become a reality.”

Video of Ward’s remarks in the Senate are available here.

Residents can follow Ward on Facebook at and Twitter @SenatorJWard for news about legislation and the 30th Senate District. Contact information for her district offices and other information can be found on her website at, and constituents also can sign up for her e-newsletter at


Contact: Nathan Akers

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