HARRISBURG, Pa. — Governor Tom Wolf proposed his historic Nellie Bly Scholarship Program on Feb. 17 at a press conference where he was joined by Shippensburg University President Laurie A. Carter, Edinboro University senior Sam Bohen, and Acting Education Secretary Noe Ortega.
According to the press release about the event, the scholarship would help 44,000 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) students afford college. The program would provide "need-based financial assistance for students at 14 universities in the state’s system."
The scholarship is named after Nellie Bly, an Armstrong County native who was born in 1864. She attended Indiana Normal School, which is now Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She became a journalist whose stories helped push for reform in the mental health system in the early 20th century.
Also according to the press release, since 2010, tuition and fees at public higher education institutions have risen by 16%.
“Our country has a student loan debt crisis and it’s a burden that lasts for years and holds young people back from starting a family, buying a home and saving for retirement," Wolf said.
In order to qualify for the the scholarship, a student must attend one of the 14 colleges and universities that qualify and have a household income of under $104,800.
"For the most economically disadvantaged students, the scholarship covers the tuition and fees gap not covered by a student’s Pell and Pa. State Grants," the release said. "In exchange, the students must agree to stay in Pennsylvania after graduation for the same number of years for which they receive the benefit or until the scholarship becomes a low-interest loan."
The program would also create an Emergency Grant Fund at PASSHE in order to cover any expenses the scholarship recipients may not be able to afford on their own, like books. It would also help pay any final account balances or "other nominal costs that often prohibit students from registering for classes or obtaining transcripts."
Funding for the scholarship would come from $199 million in slot machine revenue that is directed to the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Trust Fund.