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Pittsburgh Promise Scholarships To Decrease For Class Of 2017

Deanna Garcia
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Promise stewards announced Tuesday they plan to drop the scholarship's maximum four-year award from $40,000 to $30,000 beginning with the class of 2017.

“We are stewarding this trust to make it last as long as possible and impact as many kids as possible,” said Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril. “It was really a choice saying, ‘Are we content with giving a bigger scholarship to 15,000 kids or a slightly smaller scholarship to 25,000 kids?’”

The drop from $10,000 to $7,500 a year takes the promise back to its original structure.

“From the very beginning, in the first round of scholarships, the money could be used for tuition and fees and then we later added room and board. We are now taking room and board off the table and going back to tuition and fees.”

Ghubril said this will allow the fund to operate at least through 2028 and hopefully beyond. When the Pittsburgh Promise started in 2008 it was based on anecdotal data, he said. Now adjustments are being made.

“Now we have eight years of real data and real experience," he said. "We have 5,600 kids who have pursued higher education on a scholarship. We’ve spent about $64 million on their education so far, and nearly 1,100 have graduated and are employed in the Pittsburgh region.”

Ghubril said 15 cost-cutting measures were examined. The changes, he said, allow for the same number lower-income students to be reached. The promise isn’t a way to fund an entire education, but rather a way to bridge the gap of what is owed after federal financial aid and other scholarships are applied, he said.

Other changes beginning with the class of 2017:

  • Establish a new annual maximum scholarship of $7,500 ($30,000 maximum);
  • Eliminate the minimum scholarship generally awarded to students who are otherwise receiving ample scholarship support;
  • Fund only tuition and fees (not room, board, and books);
  • Fund post-secondary education for only four years; and,
  • Adjust the residency and enrollment scale to encourage longer investments in public education:
    • Enroll in Kindergarten and receive 100 percent of maximum scholarship;
    • Enroll in 1st through 5th grade and receive 90 percent of maximum scholarship;
    • Enroll in 6th through 8th grade and receive 70 percent of maximum scholarship;
    • Enroll in 9th grade and receive 50 percent of maximum scholarship.

A fundraising campaign for the fund is ongoing. Board members reported they've reached about 70 percent of the $250 million goal.