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Shapiro Administration Announces More than $1.6 Million to Make Higher Education More Affordable for Parents


Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) today announced more than $1.6 million in grant funding to help eligible postsecondary institutions fund scholarships and programming for undergraduate students with children. Making higher education affordable and accessible for Pennsylvanians of all means and all backgrounds is a key priority of Governor Shapiro’s blueprint for higher education.

“Today’s postsecondary students are more diverse than ever before, coming from an array of backgrounds with unique needs and life experiences, and it is imperative that we provide all learners with the supports they need to succeed,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “The Parent Pathways Grant Program will provide learners with supports to balance their academic and family responsibilities while navigating their postsecondary journey.”

Postsecondary institutions can apply on eGrants from February 13, 2024, to March 12, 2024

The 2024 Parent Pathways Grant offers institutions the opportunity to apply for competitive funding:  

  • To expand parent programming, resources, and supports or to implement parent programming, resources, and supports. Funding can be used, but is not limited to, wrap-around services for students, expansion of childcare facilities, staffing salary support for parent navigators, transportation supports, and other expansion of work already being accomplished on campus. 
  • For scholarships covering tuition, fees, housing, meals, books, childcare, etc.
  • For the use of stipends/emergency funding up to a maximum amount as determined by the institution. 

Studies indicate that one in five undergraduate college students is balancing the responsibilities of raising children while pursuing a postsecondary education, and nearly half of them do not earn a degree. Parenting students bear significant burdens and need additional support to navigate through their academic program successfully, and the Parent Pathways Grant Program provides funding to institutions to directly support the persistence of these students in the form of tuition assistance, emergency funding, and wrap-around services.

In December 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services released a policy report following consultations with parenting students, postsecondary institution staff, subject matter experts, various state agencies, and community leaders. The Parent Pathways Learning Network (PPLN) concentrated on addressing the necessary support for food, childcare, housing, and financial aid. The results underscored the importance of integrating the firsthand experiences of parenting students into statewide policymaking.

During his 2024-25 budget address, Governor Josh Shapiro proposed a blueprint for higher education to reimagine Pennsylvania’s postsecondary sector and support more learners. After decades of disinvestment that have put postsecondary education out of reach for many Pennsylvanians, this plan will dramatically increase state funding for colleges and universities, unite PASSHE universities and community colleges under a new governance structure, and cap tuition costs for eligible students. The budget proposal invests $975 million in the community colleges and PASSHE universities that will comprise this new system – a 15 percent increase in the amount of funding those institutions received last year – and substantial investments next year to make higher education more affordable and accessible for all.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please visit the Department of Education website or follow PDE on InstagramFacebookTwitterYouTube, or Pinterest.

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