Ds Scholarship

VIEWPOINT: Del. sets standard with free college tuition scholarship

Delaware led the nation in 2005 when it became the first state in the country to offer two years of free college education to recent high school graduates.

The Student Outstanding Equivalency Scholarship (SEED) was born thanks to the insight of former state Senator Harris B. The General Assembly passed the SEED bill, which was then signed into law by former Governor Ruth Ann Miner, a fellow college free access advocate.

Mark Brainard | Images courtesy of DTCC

The SEED Scholarship has been an overwhelming success over the past 16 years, motivating students with some key criteria – working hard, getting good grades, and staying out of trouble. More than 13,000 Delaware students have gained access to higher education thanks to a SEED scholarship, and today Delaware remains a national leader in free college access.

Now, the first country is poised to become a national leader in retooling our workforce for a post-pandemic economy, thanks again to the SEED Scholarship Program.

The new legislation, known as +SEED, was Signed into law by Governor John Carney This month to expand the SEED scholarship beyond recent high school graduates to Delaware residents of all ages. It will be available not only to students pursuing an academic degree, but also to the state of Delaware seeking workforce training in areas such as diesel technology, allied health, or information technology (IT). This expansion will make debt-free education possible for thousands of adults. This includes a 19-year-old who had a break year after graduating from high school, a 35-year-old who entered directly into the workforce and now wants a college degree, or a 50-year-old who wants to switch jobs.

Unfortunately, the global health crisis of the past nineteen months has caused great economic turmoil and uncertainty, taking a heavy toll on the Delaware economy and working-class families in our state. Many Delaware residents were forced out of the workforce as a result of the necessary decisions that their employers had to make to help save lives. Now that many people are seeking better paying jobs and considering career changes, we are fortunate that our General Assembly has the foresight to build on one of the state’s most successful education programs to make training and education more accessible to more Delaware residents.

Senator Nicole Burr | Photo from the Delaware state court

For years, higher education advocates have called on our federal officials to extend Pell scholarship benefits to include workforce training and certification programs. Delaware has accomplished this by expanding its SEED grant program. In short, this groundbreaking legislation will transform the Delaware workforce for the next generation.

Delaware Tech is ready to offer life-changing certificate and certificate programs to students who have never had the opportunity to go to college, helping them gain the skills they need to get into work. We have seen first-hand the difference that a SEED scholarship has made for thousands of students over the past 16 years, and we can’t wait to prepare more SEED students for the Delaware workforce and their next educational assignments.

Thank you to Governor Carney and members of the 151st General Assembly for expanding this important scholarship program for the benefit of our students, employers in our state, and the people of Delaware for many years to come.

Mark Brainard is the president of the Technical Community College of Delaware, while state Senator Nicole Burr is the lead sponsor of the SEED+ legislation. Both are DTCC graduates as well.


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