Governor Wolf continues to push for $200 million scholarship program to reduce student debt – CBS Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At Millersville University on Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf reiterated his call for a special scholarship program for students who agree to stay in Pennsylvania after graduation.
As editor Jon Delano explains, the governor wants state lawmakers to use unspent U.S. bailout dollars to fund the program.
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Only three states have higher tuition than Pennsylvania, and our students on average graduate with $39,000 in student debt. That, says Wolf, must change.
“When Pennsylvania’s brightest and best can’t pursue a higher education simply because it’s unaffordable, it means we’re all doing something wrong,” Wolf said Thursday.
Wolf has adopted a $200 million Nellie Bly Scholarship Program, a need-based grant program for students at community colleges or one of 14 state universities who agree to stay in the State after graduation for the same number of years that they received a scholarship,
Students like Ruby Mundock of Millersville welcome this support.
“Additional financial support from the Pennsylvania government would be a win-win situation because not only would more students have the chance to receive the education we all deserve, but we would fuel a more productive and skilled future for Pennsylvania,” Mundock said.
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Alyssa Dobson, director of financial aid at Slippery Rock University, said thousands of students would benefit.
“About half of those students we currently have could benefit from a program like this. I think that will actually go a long way toward mitigating student loan debt,” Dobson says.
State Sen. Wayne Fontana, who sponsored a Senate bill to create the scholarship, said it was needed to reverse declining student numbers at many state universities.
“It will definitely help enrollment at those schools, and of course our community colleges are great,” Fontana said.
Fontana and sponsoring state House Representative Jordan Harris said it would take the support of Republican lawmakers, who control the Legislature, for that to happen. But both are hopeful.
“We have to make it affordable. We have the resources to do it. The question is, do we have the will? said Harris.
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While unspent US bailout dollars will fund a portion of this scholarship, Wolf also wants to divert some of the money from casino slot revenue, with the money now funding the Racehorse Development Trust Fund. Some Republicans oppose taking money from the Racehorse Fund for scholarships.