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Gov. Markell, lawmakers seek expansion of SEED scholarships

Delaware Public Media

The state’s SEED (Student Excellence Equals Degree) Scholarship program may soon reach more students.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers have signed on to Gov. Jack Markell’s (D-Delaware) plan to drop one of the scholarship program’s requirements.

SEED scholarships provide full-time in-state students in associate degree programs at Delaware Tech and the University of Delaware two years of free tuition as long as their GPA stays at 2.5 or above and they stay out of trouble. 

The bill would eliminate the full-time requirement, allowing part-time students or those who skip a semester to be eligible for SEED funds.

The bill, sponsored by State Senator Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington North) and State Rep. Debra Heffernan (Bellefonte, Brandywine Hundred, Edgemoor), would eliminate that requirement, allowing part-time students or those who need to skip a semester to get SEED money.

McDowell says its money well spent – even in tough budget times.

“We’re prepared to pay for everyone that arrived qualified for SEED – and we will.  We’ll find a way whatever it is to do that," said Mc Dowell, who sponsored the original SEED legislation back in 2005. "To deny them their path to a future is wrong and that’s why I can fully support these adjustments to this wonderful program.”

State Rep. David Bentz (D-Newark) is among the bill's co-sponsors.  He says he supports the move because it would address changing student needs.

“Students don’t go to school the same way they used to. Students often have to carry jobs to support their families, to support themselves as they through school.  That’s a more common phenomenon," said Bentz.  So, if we can embrace those students and make sure they still have the same access that previous generations did, we really to make sure we do that.”

Republican State Reps. Joe Miro (R-Pike Creek Valley),  David Wilson (R-Bridgeville) and Harvey Kenton (R-Milford) were also on hand to support the bill as it was rolled out at Delaware Tech's Terry campus in Dover Tuesday.

Gov. Markell proposed this change in his January State of the State address. 

State officials says the program has reached about 16,000 students since it started in 2007.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.