Shapiro administration announces $1.6M in grants to help parents attending college - TAI News
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Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration on Feb. 13 announced more than $1 million in grant funds to help increase the affordability of higher education for parents.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education said in a statement that its $1.6 million Parent Pathways Grant funding will go to eligible higher education institutions to pay for scholarships and programming for undergraduate students with children.

“Today’s postsecondary students are more diverse than ever before, coming from an array of backgrounds with unique needs and life experiences, and it is imperative that we provide all learners with the supports they need to succeed,” Education Secretary Khalid Mumin said. “The Parent Pathways Grant Program will provide learners with supports to balance their academic and family responsibilities while navigating their postsecondary journey.”

The Department of Education said as many as a fifth of undergraduate students are raising children while earning their degrees. In 2022, the state Department of Human Services released a policy report indicating that parents attending college need increased support in obtaining child care, housing, financial aid, and even food; the grant program is intended to help provide some of this additional support. 

Specifically, higher-education institutions will be able to apply to get funding for parent-focused scholarships, stipends and emergency funds, as well as to expand child care facilities, salary support for staff to connect parents with resources, or otherwise grow and support parent-focused programs already on their campuses.

Institutions will have until March 12 to apply for funding.

While the grant funding is included in the current budget, the Department of Education’s announcement comes after Shapiro pushed for increased education funding, including for higher education, in the upcoming 2024-2025 budget. 

In his budget proposal, the governor advocates for spending $279 million to make college more affordable and investing nearly $1 billion more in state colleges and universities — a 15% increase over current funding levels. 

“After decades of disinvestment that have put postsecondary education out of reach for many Pennsylvanians, this plan will dramatically increase state funding for colleges and universities, unite PASSHE [Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education] universities and community colleges under a new governance structure, and cap tuition costs for eligible students,” the Department of Education said in its statement.

Those and other funding priorities could help Pennsylvania jump from 49th place nationwide in state higher education funding to 22nd place within the next five years, according to the governor’s office.

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