Governor Wolf outlines $200 million plan to make college affordable and ensure future workforce stability

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Citing Pennsylvania’s monstrous $71.5 billion student debt, Governor Tom Wolf called for action on his plan to make a college education an attainable goal for all Pennsylvanians.

Through his $200 million Nellie Bly proposal, Governor Wolf hopes to provide scholarships to students attending a community college or higher education institution in the PA state system.

“A good education can prepare a person for a life of success. But pursuing that education can often be a dream out of reach as costs soar and student debt looms,” Governor Wolf said. “Let’s help students in Pennsylvania succeed and put money back into the economy, instead of burdening them with debt equal to a down payment on a new home.”

The Nellie Bly Scholarship Program – proposed to be funded by both the US Federal Bailout Act and the Race Horse Development Trust Fund – would support student tuition and relevant attendance fees, with a focus on those pursuing programs with high labor needs post-pandemic such as health, education, and public service. Students taking advantage of the program must remain in Pennsylvania to live and work for the same number of years that they received the scholarship.

Governor Wolf was joined by some of Pennsylvania’s higher education leaders to highlight the program at the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg today.

“Public higher education provides students with life-changing opportunities and prepares them for dynamic careers that are in high demand and vital to the economic future of the state,” said PASSHE Chancellor Daniel Greenstein. “Pennsylvania’s 14 state system universities offer the highest quality education at the lowest possible price, but for too many students, the dream of a degree is still out of reach. The Governor’s direct student aid proposal—combined with PASSHE’s efforts to freeze tuition and transform the system—will help ensure that public higher education is a driver of social mobility and economic development for years to come.

“To ensure that the Commonwealth workforce remains competitive, there is a growing need to encourage students to enroll in and attend education, health or public service programs offered by colleges. PASSHE and HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College,” said HACC President and CEO John “Skier” Sygielski. “This scholarship can be a way for the Commonwealth to reduce student out-of-pocket expenses, increase enrollment and completion, and ensure Pennsylvania’s workforce remains internationally competitive.”

As Pennsylvania struggles to move forward after the COVID-19 pandemic, Nellie Bly’s proposal would remove barriers to affordable education while simultaneously stabilizing Pennsylvania’s future workforce, as graduates would be required to maintain their Pennsylvania roots for work and life or repay tuition through a low-interest loan.

This $200 million program builds on Governor Wolf’s prioritization and education funding legacy to ensure students have every opportunity to be ready for college, career and community.

“Now is the time to act to invest in our future and ensure the success of Pennsylvanians and our Commonwealth as a whole,” added Wolf. “We have the resources to make it happen, we just need action from the General Assembly.”

To access photos and videos from today’s event, please visit PACast.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Rementer, [email protected], 717-783-1116

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