Governor Tom Wolf wants to bet on 44,000 students to help them graduate from college while graduating with less debt and building a successful life in Pennsylvania. Today, the governor held a press conference to discuss how his landmark Nellie Bly scholarship program would provide need-based financial assistance to students at 14 universities in the state system.

“Our country is in a student debt crisis and it is a burden that lasts for years and prevents young people from starting families, buying a house and saving for their retirement,” Governor Wolf said. “I offer the Nellie Bly Scholarship Program to help students build a life in their community rather than struggling to pay student loan bills every month.

The Nellie Bly Scholarship Program offers a scholarship to full-time undergraduate students at 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities who have a family income of less than $ 104,800. For the most economically disadvantaged students, the scholarship covers tuition and fees not covered by a student’s state Pell and PA grants. In return, students agree to stay in Pennsylvania after graduation for the same number of years for which they receive the benefit or the scholarship becomes a low-interest loan.

The program also creates an emergency grant fund at PASSHE to cover any emergency expenses that fellows may have, including books, payment of the final account balance, or other nominal costs that often prevent students register for courses or obtain transcripts.

The governor was joined for the press conference by Shippensburg University President Laurie A. Carter, Edinboro University Senior Sam Bohen, and Acting Education Secretary Noe Ortega.

“An additional investment from the state in our future leaders allows students to focus on building careers and becoming citizens of the world, without needing to work a second or third job to help cover expenses.” Said Laurie A. Carter, president of the University of Shippensburg. “This means, for example, that students can focus on internship opportunities or other practical experiences that make them more ready to work. Such experiences are essential for student success. We know that students who do internships or who have other engagement experiences related to their future employment are more engaged and successful professionals. “

“When I graduate from Edinboro in May, I will bring with me incredible knowledge and friendships as well as $ 40,000 in debt,” said Sam Bohen, a senior at the University of Edinboro. . “Many students find their way into college spending our days in class and our nights at work so that we can pay rent and books. We are doing all of this hard work and we continue to get $ 40,000 in debt. The Nellie Bly College scholarship program would be extremely helpful for students in public schools. I want to stay in Pennsylvania and be a part of our future and this program would allow me to do that. I think it’s just amazing. I think we should bet on the students in our public schools.

The rising cost of higher education may prevent some students from starting their university studies or graduating. Since 2010, tuition and fees at public higher education institutions have increased by 16%.

“The cost of college education in Pennsylvania continues to prevent students and families from choosing to pursue post-secondary education,” said Acting Education Secretary Noe Ortega. “For many of our residents, loans have become the primary route to a college degree, and students must be prepared to accept the burden of debt in order to pursue their dreams. For this reason, I support Governor Wolf for the Nellie Bly Scholarship Program which will open doors and create opportunities for students, as well as positively impact the workforce and the economy. of our state.

The scholarship is named after Nellie Bly, a native of Armstrong County born in 1864. Bly attended Indiana Normal School, now Indiana University of Pennsylvania, but left due Cost. Bly became a pioneering journalist who helped force reforms to the mental health system at the turn of the 20th century. Inspired by Jules Verne’s novel, Bly also made a trip around the world in just 72 days.

Almost a century later, higher education remains too expensive for many low-income and middle-class families. Student debt for Pennsylvania residents is $ 68 billion, among the highest in the country, averaging over $ 39,000 per student. About 70 percent of Pennsylvania students have student loans to pay for their college education.

The scholarships benefiting 44,000 students would be funded by reallocating $ 199 million in slot revenue that is directed to the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund. About 80 percent of the income goes to the purses of horse owners, many of whom come from other states or countries. The fund has provided more than $ 3 billion over 16 years to subsidize the unique private sector, which should be ready to sustain itself in a capitalist free market economy. This $ 3 billion is in addition to the traditional support the industry receives from the Commonwealth, including payments from Pari Mutuel Wagering Tax and Clean and Green, a preferential tax assessment program, among others. The fund would still support health and pension benefits for rider organizations, as provided for in the original slots law.

The Pennsylvania state higher education system is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth with 93,000 students. The university system includes Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester.

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