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Pittsburgh Promise scholarship waives attendance requirement for class of 2022

Pittsburgh Public Schools students celebrate during a 2018 Senior Signing Day celebration hosted by the Pittsburgh Promise.
Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh Public Schools students celebrate during a 2018 Senior Signing Day celebration hosted by the Pittsburgh Promise.

Because of the challenges that city students have faced during the coronavirus pandemic, seniors will be eligible for the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship even if they’ve missed more than 10% of school days.

Students in the class of 2022 will still have to have a 2.5 cumulative Grade Point Average and have attended a PPS school or one of its charter schools since 9th grade. But the fund is setting aside its requirement that students have at least a 90% attendance record to be eligible for support.

“We have concluded that class of 2022 students will have attendance issues due to COVID-19 exposures and alternating between remote and in-person schooling,” said Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril.

It's the second year the attendance standard has been eased. The GPA and attendance requirements were waived for the class of 2021, also because of COVID disruptions.

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Over the course of the pandemic, Pittsburgh Public Schools students spent more than a year learning remotely. Some reported persistent technology and WiFi issues. Teachers say attendance was sparse and engaging students was difficult. And even when in-person classes returned this year, many students spent time away from school because of illness or COVID-19 exposures. A shortage of bus drivers and substitute teachers also kept students home.

The fund provides up to $5,000 a year ($20,000 maximum) per student for post-secondary education at any Pennsylvania college, university, trade or technical school. It’s a “last dollar” scholarship, meaning it pays expenses after other grants and scholarships have been deducted.

Ghubril noted that post-secondary enrollment has declined locally and nationally because of pandemic challenges. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, college enrollment nationwide has dropped by nearly 7 percent since 2019.

“We hope to mitigate declines in enrollment for the class of 2022 to the extent that we can," he said in a release. "We encourage our students to keep pushing forward towards their post-secondary plans and hopeful goals."

The fund launched in 2008 with a pledge to fund students through the high school graduating class of 2028. To date, the Promise reports that it has invested more than $160 million in scholarship money given to 10,645 graduates. According to the Promise, 3,780 scholars have graduated.