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Governor Signs Bill Eliminating Scholarship Displacement

On Friday July 8, Governor Tom Wolf signed into law HB1642, a sprawling public school system bill which includes a ban on scholarship displacement at public colleges and universities. This makes Pennsylvania the fourth state in the country to eliminate the practice of public colleges and universities reducing a student’s financial aid package when the student receives a private scholarship.

A statewide coalition of scholarship providers, rallied by the Adams County Community Foundation, initiated the call for elimination of scholarship displacement in 2018. Community Foundation President and CEO Ralph Serpe explains, “As a community foundation, our duty is to carry out our donors’ intent. When we award a scholarship to a student on behalf of a donor, and the university then reduces that student’s financial aid package, that essentially eliminates the scholarship’s benefit to the student, and defeats our donor’s purpose in awarding the scholarship.”

The coalition included members of the Pennsylvania Community Foundation Association, The Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Foundation, the Philadelphia College Prep Roundtable and Pittsburgh’s Poise Foundation.  

Harold Griffie, whose STEM scholarship was established at the Adams County Community Foundation in 2014, says, “I was surprised to learn that the students were no closer to having what they needed after being awarded my scholarship, since the university reduced their financial aid package by the amount of the scholarship. I thought, this can’t be fair! I’m very grateful that our state legislature and governor have taken steps to set this right.”

The bill goes into effect immediately and will affect awards for the upcoming academic year. State Representative Dan Moul (R. Adams County) a bill co-sponsor says, “It’s unusual for a new law or regulation to be successful in the first year it’s proposed. But once the Community Foundation and the other scholarship providers showed us what was happening—what scholarship displacement was—I and others were eager to address it right away.”

The Adams County Community Foundation recently announced $188,000 in new scholarship awards to students in Adams County and South-Central Pennsylvania. The amount awarded brings the total amount of scholarships granted by the Community Foundation since its founding to more than $1.4 million. Awards range from $500 to $30,000 and go to students pursuing higher education.

The Adams County Community Foundation was created to promote and facilitate charitable giving and to build a permanent civic endowment for Adams County. While focused locally, the Community Foundation provides a home for charitable funds created by donors which may make grants and scholarships anywhere across the country. Information about contributing to scholarship awards or applying for scholarship support is available at AdamsCountyCF.org

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  • Finally! It was my experience that an award from an organization given to me upon graduating from high school negated a like amount given to help me into the local college. It may seem like a small amount now but at the time it fostered bad feelings and the extra burden of finding another way to fund a semester of books. My family was not able to afford those 4 years as easily as others and every little bit of support helped me through the completion of my degree.

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