Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pittsburgh Promise- New Information

A post last month involved whether a college or other post-secondary school might reduce scholarship funds the college might otherwise have offered, to take into account the availability of the Pittsburgh Promise.

At today's Pittsburgh Promise informational meeting at University Prep, the director of the Promise indicated that this type of offset is a real possibility and an issue that the Promise cannot fully control. However, Promise officials will be meeting with various post-secondary directors next week to discuss this issue. At a minimum, the goal is that Promise funds do not essentially go to benefit universities.

A full summary of the meeting will be posted shortly on the PURE Reform announcements page (below the announcement of today's meeting).


Questioner said...

At the information session, at least one parent was wondering where to find the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. The form and complete information is at .

Kathy Fine said...

PURE Reform attended the Pittsburgh Promise Night at University Prep School on Wednesday, 11/12. The meeting was run by Saleem Ghubril, director of the Pittsburgh Promise. The meeting was started with a short film highlighting various Promise supporters, the superintendent and several students from the PPS that the Promise will benefit. A student that graduated from Brashear that now attends CCAC commented on how she would not have attended college without the Promise funds.

There was a review of the population decline in the City of Pittsburgh and of the decline in PPS enrollment as an explanation of one of the goals of the Promise: to retain students in the PPS and in the city in general.

It was explained that Promise funds are intended to be “last dollar,” so that all federal, state and school based scholarships/aid is first determined and then Promise funds are allocated. A power point chart showing school scholarships allocated before Promise funds was presented. When asked by PURE Reform if schools could actually decrease the amount of scholarship money for a student based on the fact that the student is from Pittsburgh Public Schools and will receive Promise money, Mr. Ghubril stated that this is a possibility and is something the Pittsburgh Promise cannot fully control. He noted however that he will be meeting next week with financial officers from several different higher education institutions to discuss this scenario and seek to obtain the cooperation of schools in how Promise funds are allocated.

Mr. Ghubril went on to state that for the current year the Promise has already received pledges for $6.5 million (about half of the $15 million goal by June) and hopes to have $11.5 million by January. The $15 million goal by June is important because UPMC’s yearly challenge grant of $10 million is contingent on raising $15 million per year from other sources. He also announced a fundraising drive that aims to have 100,000 people contribute $50-100, and he asked for “Neighborhood Captains” to help organize this effort. When asked by PURE Reform what will happen to the matching funds promised by UPMC if the goal of $15 million by June is not reached, Mr. Ghubril stated that the Promise will receive a percentage of the matching funds that correlates to the money raised, and that he is determined to meet the $15 million goal.

Other questions were whether Promise funds are taxable to students or their families (Mr. Ghubril stated that the funds are not taxable) and why, within Allegheny County, the Promise can be used for both public and private colleges, while outside of Allegheny County the Promise can be used for public but not private colleges (Mr. Ghubril did not know why this is the case). After the meeting Mr. Ghubil confirmed that the Pittsburgh Foundation does not receive a fee for managing the Pittsburgh Promise.

deegazette said...

ramallIt would make for more efficient Promise nights if attendees read this blog prior to upcoming meetings.

Can you give us an idea on attandance?

Questioner said...

Excluding people from the Promise, there were maybe 30 - 35 people there. It was noted the U Prep just has 9th gr so the Promise is a ways off for them, and that there were about 150 people at Peabody. Dinner is served and the U Prep meeting was scheduled right after a parents' meeting so they make it convenient.

Questioner said...

Here is what sounds like good news as to how Penn State is choosing to apply Promise grants, from the Penn State Office of Financial Aid:

"University scholarships and grants are awarded first in our
aid packaging process. Other awards, such as the Promise
award, are usually applied after our awarding is completed.

Please understand that there are limits (federal, state,
University) as to how much money a student may receive. In
many cases, the limit is the cost of attendance as
calculated by the institution. This includes both grants
and loans that a student may receive.

If a student is the recipient of a Pennsylvania State
grant, then there is a 'gift aid' limit which must be
followed. This merely limits the amount of 'free money'
(i.e. grants, scholarships, etc) a student may receive.

So, when either of the two limits come into play, there may
be some adjustments to University or other funding.

With this being the first year of the Promise program, we
saw very few instances where there was an impact on
University aid, and that impact only came where one of the
above limits was reached.

Working within federal, state and University limits, we do
strive to have students be able to keep as much grant and
scholarship money as is allowed, but we are bound by

We are following up on whether the "gift aid" limit is a set amount for everyone, or is computed on a sliding scale based on family income.