Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella unveiled the “Pennsylvania Skills Compact,” a plan to provide up to two years of tuition-free training for all Pennsylvanians towards associate’s degrees, technical certificates or occupational credentialing.
“Whether young or old, no Pennsylvanian’s bank balance should keep them from getting the education they need to move their families—and our Commonwealth—ahead. Pennsylvanians have been devastated by the economic effects of COVID-19, but there were serious cracks in the foundation for a long time. We need immediate help for those out of work and those barely hanging on. But even while we do that, we need to start acting on a long-term recovery plan that gives all Pennsylvanian a fair shot at success. The Pennsylvania Skills Compact can be a big piece of that plan. For too long, we’ve seen too many talented Pennsylvanians burdened by a mountain of debt, or simply priced out of the education and training that will be the key to recovery—for them and for our state”, said PA Treasurer Torsella.
The PA Skills Compact would be a last-dollar program, meaning students must complete the FAFSA and use existing federal aid and state grants before the program kicks in to cover the remainder of tuition and mandatory fees. Any Pennsylvania resident could enroll in the program and attend an eligible institution in the Commonwealth, including community colleges, specialized technical schools, and four-year institutions that offer 2-year degrees.
The PA Skills Compact is also meant to address the existing skills gap, provide a fair shot to both new and returning students regardless of means, boost post-secondary attainment, and expedite Pennsylvania’s economic recovery.
Modeled after a similar program in Tennessee, at least 15 states have such a program, including Arkansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia.