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Indiana House passes bill that would expand 21st Century Scholars program

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Posted at 10:01 PM, Feb 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-16 22:01:45-05

INDIANAPOLIS — There was a rare moment of bipartisanship Thursday at the statehouse.

A bill passed out of the house unanimously that would require schools to notify students of their eligibility to enroll in the21st Century Scholars program. The program makes college a financial possibility for many students.

Lawmakers from both sides of aisle have repeatedly said the fewer Hoosiers are pursuing a college education after high school, which is why House Bill 1449 has bipartisan support.

This legislation would automatically enroll students who qualify into the 21st Century Scholars program. Eligible students who meet requirements receive a two- or four-year scholarship that pays up to 100% of a student's tuition at an eligible Indiana college or university.

Currently, families must fill out extensive paperwork while a child is in middle school to qualify. The bill would make the process simpler.

The bipartisan bill is something both sides say will help Indiana’s workforce and lawmakers feel it will encourage more kids to go to college.

"It expands it not just for two- and four-year colleges, but for certifications and credentials. It's a good bill,” Speaker of the House Todd Huston said. “We want to give kids as many options as possible. We want to give kids the pathways they can lean in to for their careers. "

"A well-trained workforce, an educated workforce, you know these are things we have to do to make sure that our students have and if they want to they will be able to have access to college and 4 year degree,” State Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, House Democratic Leader, said. “Those are the type of things I hear companies around the state asking for. "

This bill is something that has support from the Governor and even the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Both made it part of their 2023 legislative priorities.

This expansion is something they feel will help keep Hoosier college graduates here in Indiana.