Pa. public colleges could double scholarships they give out, up to $50M more this year alone.

Jan 3, 2018 by

Make no mistake: An extra $50 million or so in scholarships every year could help plenty of state university students in Pennsylvania pay their college bills.

The question is, how much of that potential new pool of money will materialize, and how quickly?

The 14 universities belonging to the State System of Higher Education now have flexibility that, if fully utilized, will let them boost dramatically the amount of need- and merit-based financial aid they provide.

What is not known is the extent to which each campus will decide it can afford to do so, even if it would help them fill classroom seats.

The schools are responding to a decision by the State System’s board of governors to let the campuses double the percentage of yearly tuition and fee income that can be plowed back into financial aid.

Prior to a special board meeting on Nov. 13, no more than a combined 10 percent could be used — 5 percent each, for need- and merit-based aid, officials said. The new limit doubles that to 20 percent.

The change went largely unnoticed, overshadowed by a decision at the same meeting to skip a presidential search at embattled Cheyney University and elevate interim president Aaron Walton to a permanent appointment. Even so, the policy change could have a sizable impact on the system with 102,000 students, long constrained in aid packages it can offer.

Last year, the 14 universities collectively provided $48 million in institutional aid from their operating budgets, a figure that was expected to reach about $53 million in 2017-18.

“Based on the newly revised policy, they would be able to spend approximately $110 million at current revenue levels,” State System spokesman Kenn Marshall said. “The increased limits can be applied immediately so the additional scholarship funds would be available for the spring semester.”

continue: Pa. public colleges could double scholarships they give out, up to $50M more this year alone. What’s it mean for families? | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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