In this Update:
Universal FAFSA Completion Empowers Young People and Families
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the key to unlocking critical financial aid for students attending college or participating in job training programs. Unfortunately, billions of dollars in potential aid to students has gone unclaimed.
I announced a proposal this week that would boost the number of high school students who complete this form to help more young people understand the type of aid that is available to them. My legislation will require high school seniors to complete the FAFSA unless they opt out on a form provided to parents or guardians.
This concept is a commonsense way to address workforce needs and boost education empowerment and access, which are among the priorities I announced with my fellow Senate Leaders last month. More details about my bill are available here.
As a reminder, the deadline for students and families to submit their applications for the 2023-24 Pennsylvania State Grant program is May 1.
How to Apply for a Veterans ID Card
Many former service members are unsure how to prove they are a veteran to take advantage of discounts offered by businesses. These include restaurants, hotels, stores, recreational activities, home improvement and more.
The easiest way is to apply for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans ID Card (VIC), which is a digital photo ID you can use to get those discounts. Since September 2022, all new Veterans ID cards have been digital. A veteran with a physical ID card can continue using it to get discounts. The VIC is separate from the VA health care ID, which a veteran receives when enrolling in VA health care.
Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy for At-Risk Youth Accepting Applications
The Keystone State ChalleNGe Academy (KSCA) is accepting applications for its third class of cadets, which begins in July. KSCA is designed to give academically challenged teens a second chance at obtaining their basic education, as well as learning leadership, self-discipline and responsibility.
The program is open to 16- to 18-year-old male and female Pennsylvania residents who are failing to progress in high school or may not be on a clear path to graduating. Applicants must be willing to be drug free, free of felony convictions and voluntarily commit to the program. The program lasts for 17 months, with the first five months consisting of residential training at Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County, followed by a year of mentorship back in the community.
Learn more about eligibility requirements and begin the application process here. Anyone who prefers to have an application mailed or would like to talk with someone about the program may contact the academy by emailing RA-MVPAChallenge@pa.gov or calling 717-861-7767 or 717-861-8831.
Check Out a State Park Near You
Now that spring has arrived, the nicer weather will allow Pennsylvanians more opportunities to explore our state’s 124 beautiful state parks, operated by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Pennsylvania’s state parks system manages more than 300,000 acres for popular recreation activities, such as hiking, picnicking, camping, fishing, hunting and boating.
Pennsylvania state parks do not charge an entrance fee; however, fees do apply for some activities.
If you like to enjoy the outdoors with your dog, 56 of our state parks offer dog-friendly campgrounds. Learn more or find a park nearby here. Make reservations online here to secure campsites, cabins, picnic pavilions, whitewater boating launch time permits and more.
Recognizing the Vital Role of Volunteers
The strength of America is found not in the relationship between citizens and government, but between citizens themselves: Neighbors helping neighbors through the act of volunteering.
An estimated 23.2% of Americans or more than 60.7 million people formally volunteered with organizations between September 2020 and 2021. For everyone who steps up and gives time, effort and more, you have my deep appreciation.
If you have a question about the information in this e-newsletter or other state related matters that you would like a response to, please click HERE to submit your inquiry through my website. This will help to ensure that we are able to respond to your question in a timely fashion due to the high volume of emails and the ever growing amount of computer generated spam mail we receive daily.