Senate plan seeks to increase post-secondary education enrollment

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A state Senate Appropriations Committee plan would provide access to more affordable post-secondary education options.

The “Grow PA” plan includes two new programs designed to boost enrollment in higher education programs. Students enrolled in the plans would be required to work in Pennsylvania for a period of time. Graduates who do not meet this condition would have the grants or scholarships converted to loans.

The Grow PA Scholarship Grant Program would provide funding for students in high-demand industries while the Merit Scholarship Program would help attract out-of-state students to Pennsylvania.

The plan also includes the expansion of several existing higher education assistance programs including the popular Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program, the Targeted Industry Support Program, and the Foster/Adopted Child Program.

The plan would encourage universal completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Last year, the Senate approved a bill mandating universal FAFSA completion. Completion means students and families are fully aware of what financial aid packages are available.

Finally, the plan creates a performance-based funding model for state-related universities to add accountability to the process.

By 2029, Pennsylvania is expected to have 12 percent fewer college students compared 2013, according to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.