People seeking specialized training in some highly-sought after manufacturing and science fields can now apply for a new state grant to help fund their schooling.
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which provides millions in grant money to two- and four-year college students each year, is now offering the Pennsylvania Targeted Industry Program, or PA-TIP.
With the encouragement of Gov. Tom Corbett, PHEAA is now dipping its toes into the field of certifications and less than two-year degrees, said PHEAA spokesman Keith New.
The need-based program will give up to $4,300 to Pennsylvania students enrolled in the following courses of study: energy, advanced materials, diversified manufacturing, agriculture, and food production fields. Since the funding comes in the form of grants, students do not need to repay them.
Other subject areas are being considered, New added, as PHEAA works with schools to make them knowledgeable of the program and finds out what the schools offer that could qualify students.
Qualifications: Only study programs with timelines of more than 10 weeks and less than two years qualify.
But the hope is getting more students trained will add to a skilled workforce that has been lacking statewide.
"There are areas of the Commonwealth where the workforce is just not meeting the demand of our employers," New said. "It's something identified as being lacking in PA."
PHEAA is taxpayer funded, but the $5 million set aside for this program in the coming school year is from PHEAA's business earnings, so the program won't cost Pennsylvania anything.
To qualify, students will need to fill out the free application for federal and state aid as well as an application for the program, which is available at pheaa.org. Most schools will be aware of the program and able to assist as well.
Students also must be a Pennsylvania resident, a high school graduate and enrolled full time.
-- Reach Andrew Shaw at asha firstname.lastname@example.org