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Promise Scholarship Removes GPA, Attendance Requirements For Class Of 2021

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA
Saleem Ghubril, executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise, in January 2020.

The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program will not use grade point average or attendance as eligibility requirements to receive the annual funds this year.

Pittsburgh Public Schools students are typically required to meet residency and enrollment requirements for the scholarship. Graduates with a 2.5 GPA or higher will be eligible to use the last-dollar scholarship at any post-secondary program in Pennsylvania.

Students with a 2.49 GPA or lower will be eligible for the Promise Extension Program to attend the Community College of Allegheny County for the first year. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA and may then use Promise funds at any post-secondary program in Pennsylvania.

Executive Director Saleem Ghubril said they made the change because disparities in access to technology and ongoing COVID-19 hardships have negatively impacted student grades.

“We have concluded that it will be nearly impossible to measure attendance for the class of 2021,” Ghubril said in a release. “We encourage our students to keep pushing forward towards their post-secondary plans, and not let the circumstances of this year derail their future goals.”

Last month PPS’s data office reported that the percentage of E grades, the lowest on the grading scale, earned in grades 1-12 had more than doubled over last year. At the high school level, 9.2 percent of students received E grades during the first quarter of this school year compared to 4.1 percent during the first quarter of 2019-20.

PPS has claimed a high daily attendance rate, calculated based on students logging into their morning homeroom class. Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has said that he does not have data to show how long students remain logged into classes.

To date, the Promise has provided $150 million in scholarships to more than 10,000 Pittsburgh students. More than 3,400 have graduated from post-secondary institutions.

Sarah Schneider is WESA's education reporter. From early learning to higher education, Sarah is interested in students and educators working to create more equitable systems. Sarah previously worked with news outlets in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Idaho. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she worked for the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian.
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