College Access Plan
Many prospective higher education students are discouraged to attend school because of the hefty tuition costs or the debt many will incur by time one graduates. A 13-bill package, the College Access Plan (CAP), was introduced last week by the Senate Democrats that would make it more affordable for many students to attend college and achieve a quality education, but graduate with less debt.
Included in CAP are the following legislative initiatives:
- Academic Excellence Scholarship Program - merit-based scholarships that would provide up to $5,000 for high school students to attend college and stay in Pennsylvania following graduation
- STEM HELP - $50 million program designed to allow STEM majors (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to pay back their student loans through a Pay-It-Forward plan. Participants would be required to stay in Pennsylvania for five years after graduating
- PA College Access Challenge Grant - would deliver bridge funding to the state Department of Education so it may continue the work of its Challenge Grant team and invest in programs that help kids graduate from high school and go to post-secondary institutions
- PA Pathways to College Act - provides supplemental funding for additional counselors, training and resources for college prep for targeted high-need high schools
- Free Tuition Lottery - revenues generated would provide free tuition and need-based grants for low-income students
- PA Educated and Employed Loan Forgiveness - would allow loan forgiveness to graduates of State System of Higher Education universities who live and work in the commonwealth for five years following graduation. The $10 million fund would forgive up to $15,000 in loans for applicants from families with incomes of $70,000 or less
- Health-related Industries Education Scholarship Fund - provides financial assistance to students in health care programs through a Pay-It-Forward plan and tax credits for businesses
- Credits for Approved Job Training - creates work-based learning tax credits for businesses that provide internships to high school students for in high demand “gold collar” jobs like biotechnicians, medical technicians and network administrators. Students could then obtain credits that would transfer to a postsecondary program in that field
- Financial Literacy - provide k-12 students with personal finance education
- State Authorized Reciprocal Agreements - the Department of Education would be given the authority to enter into interstate reciprocity agreements to deliver post-secondary distance education opportunities
- Dual Enrollment Task Force - identify and recommend opportunities for earning college credit while attending high school after considering current secondary curricula, hybrid learning scenarios, and possible advanced placement expansions
- State Tax Return Check Box for 529 Savings Accounts - would give tax returners the option of depositing any refund directly into a 529 college savings account
- Fly in 4 - would model similar programs at Temple and Penn State that create incentives and guarantee support services for students to ensure on-time graduation
Pennsylvania has some of the highest costs for public, private and community college education in the nation. As the vice chairman of the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), I am always looking to support legislation that will give students more tools to help them develop skills that are useful to sectors of our economy, while at the same time promoting financial freedom from debt. I believe the CAP initiatives will help achieve this goal and encourage students to stay in Pennsylvania after graduation to invest back into our economy.
If you would like more information about any of the CAP proposals, please click here.
Northside Mobile Office Opens Tomorrow
I want to remind everyone that tomorrow, February 11th, I will be opening a mobile office at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny branch, located at 1230 Federal Street. This office will be open every Wednesday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and by appointment.
Last week, my new mobile office at the Pittsburgh Public Market (PPM) in the Strip District opened. This office, located at 2401 Penn Avenue will be open every Thursday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and by appointment.
Below is an updated listing of my office locations and hours.
932 Brookline Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Phone – 412-344-2551
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Beechview (satellite office)
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Phone – 412-343-2080
Tuesdays - 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Kenmawr Plaza, 500 Pine Hollow Road
Kennedy Twp., PA 15136
Phone – 412-331-1208
Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Strip District (mobile office)
Pittsburgh Public Market
2401 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Thursdays – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
|Northside (mobile office)
Carnegie Library – Allegheny branch
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mobile Office Opens Tomorrow
Reminder – LIHEAP is Open
I want to remind everyone that the Department of Human Services (DHS) is accepting applications for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The program helps low income families pay their heating bills. You can also pick up an application in my district offices, or download one yourself from the DHS LIHEAP website. Completed paper applications should be returned to one of the Allegheny County Assistance Offices.
Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. The income limits for this season are as follows:
After your application is received, you will receive a written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of assistance you will receive. Payments are generally sent directly to a utility company or fuel dealer and are credited to your account. For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.
Summer Environmental Camp for Students
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is accepting applications from students interested in attending the Exploring Careers Outdoors (ECO) Camp. The six-day camp begins July 12th at Kirby Episcopal House and Chapel, Mountain Top, in Luzerne County. The camp is located near Nescopeck State Park and about 10 miles south of Wilkes-Barre.
This free camp will introduce 20 students in grades 10-12 to conservation and environmental careers. From wildlife conservation projects and stream sampling of aquatic life, to forestry skills, daily activities will offer students a hands-on, team-building learning experience in an outdoor setting. Participants explore a wide range of career experiences, including water quality assessments, geology field studies, and overnight camping experiences. Students will also meet conservation professionals to learn about potential career opportunities. After the camp, attendees will have a chance to seek internships, job-shadowing and other career-related opportunities through the camp’s mentor program.
The application deadline is April 15th. For more information about the ECO Camp and to download a brochure and application, please click here or visit http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/ecocamp/
Slot Machine Revenue Rises
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board recently announced that gross revenue from slot machines at the 12 casinos in Pennsylvania increased more than five percent during the month of January compared with January 2014 ($180,963,004 in 2015 compared to $171,786,456 in 2014). Tax revenue generated during January from slot machines was more than $96 million. Locally, the Rivers Casino saw slot machine revenue increase more than two percent in January compared with January 2014.
Tax revenue from slot machines is directed as follows: 34 percent for property tax reduction; 12 percent supporting the horse racing industry; five percent is placed in a state economic development fund; and two percent goes to local governments that host casinos. The state’s casino industry employs over 17,700 people and generates an average of $3.7 million per day in tax revenue from both slot machines and table games. To view the January report and other information from the Gaming Control Board, please visit them online at www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.
Adult Trout Stocking Schedules
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) has announced that 2015 adult trout stocking schedules are now available online. Anglers can easily search the trout stocking schedules for locations and dates of interest by visiting the PFBC’s website, www.fishandboat.com, and clicking on the link for 2015 Trout Stocking Schedules. On the site, simply enter start and end dates from the calendars at the top of the page to generate a schedule. The search results will provide each body of water within a county that is scheduled for stocking, the section of water, date, species of trout, meeting place and time, hatchery stocking the section, regulations that apply, and the latitude and longitude numbers.
The 2015 trout season opens statewide on April 18th, with a Mentored Youth Fishing Day scheduled for April 11th. The Mentored Youth Fishing Day provides adults with a special day to fish with children, ages 16 and under, in advance of opening day. For more information about the Mentored Youth Fishing Day please click here.
Did You Know…
Did you know the PFBC stocks approximately 3.2 million adult trout in more than 700 streams and 120 lakes open to public angling across Pennsylvania?
Focus On Renewal Event
On February 27th, Focus On Renewal (FOR) is hosting an evening of art, appetizers, and specialty cocktails mixed by local bartenders, an event that has been dubbed, “Artini.” This special event provides guests the opportunity to explore their artistic side by visiting different stations including painting, pottery, karaoke, and dance stations. Tickets also include appetizers alongside specialty mixed drinks concocted by Pittsburgh City Paper’s best bartender Mark Miller of Monterey Pub, Dina Deligatti of Rockefeller’s Grille, Andy Hieber of the Dead Horse Cantina, former bartender Dave English now with the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and Scott Baker of Five Generation Bakers. All proceeds from “Artini” benefit FOR’s programs and services. For information on this event please contact Chris Crytzer at 412-331-1685, ext. 305 or email@example.com.
One of the most popular gifts for Valentine’s Day, which is this Saturday, is candy. More than 200 confectionery companies and 10,000 confectionery employees call Pennsylvania their home, producing more than $5 billion worth of candy each year.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
524 Pine Hollow Rd
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216