Pa. Senate advances key parts of Republican plan to make state colleges more affordable • Pennsylvania Capital-Star

The Pennsylvania Senate on Monday advanced key components of Republicans’ plan to make higher education more affordable and accessible in Pennsylvania. Their plan, which they’ve dubbed “Grow PA” conflicts with Gov. Josh Shapiro and Democratic lawmakers’ own proposal to address the issue of college affordability.

Broadly speaking, the Senate Republicans’ plan would target scholarships towards students in and out of Pennsylvania seeking to enter in-demand areas of the workforce by offering funding and scholarships to students studying in those fields. The terms of the program would require the students to remain and work in the state for a period post-graduation.

Two bills aiming to do just that were amended in a session of the full Senate and will likely advance in the coming days.

Another bill that would expand eligibility for the existing Ready-to-Succeed Scholarship program aimed at lower- and middle-income Pennsylvanians studying to enter in-demand areas of the workforce passed with all but three Senators voting in favor of it.

The bill would raise the eligible household income limit from $126,000 to $175,000 and lower GPA requirements from 3.25 to 2.5.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-Allegheny), the bill would make an additional 24,000 students eligible for the scholarship.

“These small but important adjustments will make more students eligible for assistance,” Robinson said.

Opposing the bill, Sen. Art Haywood (D-Montgomery), said the new $175,000 limit would not focus the funds enough towards students from lower-income families. He also opposed lowering GPA requirements to 2.5.

“This creates a change in the prioritization of students that we will support,” Haywood said. 

These bills directly conflict with Democrats’ plan to address higher education affordability. That plan, laid out by Shapiro earlier this year, is largely targeted at limiting tuition costs to $1,000 across the board for Pennsylvanians attending state schools and community colleges and combining those schools’ governance.

Shapiro lays out sweeping plan to reform higher education in Pennsylvania

Not all of the bills that advanced Monday were partisan or controversial.

One bill, that would offer scholarships to out-of-state students either in foster care or adopted as older teenagers, passed the Senate unanimously.

“I’m always happy to make our state more welcoming to students who have been in foster care, wherever they’re from,” said Sen. Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny).

The Senate also voted to advance bills that are part of the broader “Grow PA” package aimed at, respectively, commissioning a study to move the state’s higher education funding model to a performance-based one, and creating a broader higher education task force.

Both bills were advanced largely on partisan lines.

Originally published at,by Ian Karbal

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