STATEHOUSE – The Indiana State Budget Agency recently announced that a bill sponsored during the 2011 legislative session by State Rep. Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte) will save the state more than $1.5 billion over the next 20 years.
Rep. Dermody sponsored and worked extensively on Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 577 that reformed the income qualification requirements for students receiving a grant through the 21st Century Scholars program.
The new rules require 21st Century students to meet an income qualification requirement upon application to college starting in 2016-2017, and they must meet an income qualification requirement for scholarship renewal if enrolled after 2011. The changes also shift enrollment to seventh or eighth grade, instead of sixth grade, and increases the required grade-point average for students upon graduation from high school and while in college.
“The 21st Century Scholars Program is meant to assist truly poor families,” said Rep. Dermody. “Last year the program spent 30 percent of its funds, $14 million, on families that did not meet the income requirements of the program. This was never the intent of the program, and we took responsible steps to make sure the program remained strong and solvent for those students who most need the program going forward. ”
Also under the version of SEA 577 that passed, it protects the rights of disabled Hoosier veterans and ensures their children continue to receive benefits to further their education. The disabled veteran must have been an Indiana resident at the time of their enlistment for their child to be eligible for the financial aid. The award recipient must also maintain a GPA of 2.5 or greater during their postsecondary education and may continue to receive the award until they are 32 years old.
SEA 577 also requires the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) to maintain records of students attending a college or university under a Higher Education Award. It also requires the postsecondary institutions to provide the CHE with student data requested by the CHE necessary to maintain the provisions of the Higher Education Award.