Harrisburg – Governor Tom Corbett today unveiled the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program that will make it possible for early learning educators to increase their education and thus improve the quality of early childhood programs.
By making college degrees a more realistic goal for nearly 2,000 early childhood educators, the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program will enable more programs to reach high-quality Keystone STAR 3 and 4 ratings so that more young children can receive a high-quality early learning experience.
“One of the most important standards for Keystone STAR 3 and 4 programs – and often the most challenging – is meeting the educational requirements for staff,” Corbett said. “This investment in our early childhood programs will result in brighter futures for Pennsylvania’s young children.”
The program will provide eligible staff in participating Keystone STARS programs up to $4,500 a year in tuition assistance for early learning college credits or the pursuit of a college degree in the early childhood education field.
The $5.5 million program will make it possible for eligible staff in Keystone STARS programs to earn credit or college degrees so they can provide higher quality early learning experiences for young children.
“Providing tuition assistance to early learning educators will not only improve the overall quality of our programs but it will afford these educators the opportunity to earn a college degree that will better prepare them to teach young learners,” Public Welfare Secretary Beverly D. Mackereth said.
Eligible staff must meet certain income requirements and have been employed at their Keystone STARS participating program. The scholarship will cover 95 percent of the tuition upfront. Eligible staff would agree to pay the balance and commit to remain at their facility for two months for every college credit earned through the program.
“In addition to teacher quality, continuity of care is also a key indicator of quality early learning experiences for children,” Mackereth said. “We’d like to see these educators remain at their program while they pursue their education. This will ensure that children served by these educators receive the greatest benefit.”
In February, Corbett announced the Rising STARS initiative to increase access to high-quality Keystone STAR 3 and 4 programs for at-risk children. The governor’s 2013-14 budget included a $3.5 million investment for the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program in addition to a $3 million increase for the Rising STARS initiative.
Applications will be available by November 4, 2013 on the PA Keys website at www.pakeys.org.
For more information, visit www.pa.gov.
Submitted by Corbett’s office.