By Donovan Levine
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf paid a visit to KU on March 4 to meet with President Hawkinson and the heads of the Communication Department to discuss his new scholarship proposal. Wolf gave a speech in the President’s Room of the MSU (250) and then made an appearance in the Bear’s Den where students, reporters and photographers encircled him left and right to greet him and take photos.
Wolf had proposed the Nellie Bly Scholarship Program, named after journalist Nellie Bly from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The program is projected to help 25,000 students at minimum to graduate with less debt in the state’s university system amid a nationwide student loan debt crisis. KU was one of 14 Pennsylvania State System Of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities to be visited by Wolf this year.
“The Nellie Bly Scholarship Program fills the gap after other aid programs so thousands of students can afford college at our world-class state system,” Wolf said.
The scholarship is a needs-based program that would apply after the Pell Grant as well as other state grants given when enrolling in one of the 14 PASSHE schools.
The scholarship program will be funded by revenue from the Horse Racing Development Fund each year. Eligibility is based on full-time enrollment and whether or not a student qualifies for federal subsidized student loans. The number of years a student receives the scholarship must also equal the number of years they live in Pennsylvania after graduation. The penalty for moving out-of-state early will result in repaying the scholarship money.
KU’s Office of Communications Director Bryan Salvadore said “it means a lot to us” that Wolf could visit the university and work with KU as a whole.
President Hawkinson was very thankful for Wolf’s visit. He says the scholarship would “enhance Kutztown University’s mission of providing a high-quality education to students with financial constraints by allowing them to graduate on time with less debt.”
Currently, Pennsylvania is facing a $68 billion student loan debt, ranking fourth in 2019 for highest average student loan debt in the nation. The state averages $37,000 per student. This scholarship offers to help solve the crisis. By visiting each of the PASSHE schools personally, Wolf highlights the importance of what this scholarship will mean for universities and students alike.