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Pennsylvania’s Keystone Education Yields Success Program

 

The Pennsylvania Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) program, which began in 2004, assists parents receiving TANF or SNAP (food stamp) benefits who are in certificate or degree programs at Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges. Individuals are referred to KEYS by the human services agency, though many “self-initiate” their enrollment at community colleges and are later referred into KEYS by local welfare offices. Each KEYS student receives support and guidance from a “KEYS student facilitator,” who is an employee of the community college paid through grants to the college from the state welfare agency. When a student enrolls, the facilitator helps the student identify potential career goals in fields with available jobs that pay family-sustaining wages. The facilitator also helps the student design a course schedule appropriate for meeting those goals and assists with financial aid applications and transportation and child care arrangements. The facilitator maintains open lines of communication with state Department of Public Welfare (DPW) county assistance workers to ensure that the student receives essential services. DPW’s Special Allowances for Supportive Services (SPALs) can pay student registration fees for education and training programs and provide students with transportation and child care assistance, books and school supplies, and clothing and uniforms. Although the Pennsylvania TANF program as a rule does not pay tuition, in rare cases, when a student is expected to qualify for financial aid shortly, the program will fund up to two courses while the student’s financial aid situation is being resolved.

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