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Update December 2018 – Changes to the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program
Beginning immediately, degree waivers for programs outside of the approved degree list (PDF) will no longer be accepted. If you are already enrolled in a program with a previously approved degree waiver, your funding will continue until your program is completed.
Applications for out-of-state institutions will also no longer be accepted. If you are currently enrolled in a program at an out-of-state institution, your funding will continue until your program is completed.
About Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program
The Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program pays 95% of tuition costs for eligible college coursework taken by early learning professionals, with a maximum benefit of $6,000 per individual each fiscal year (July 1 through June 30). The program covers tuition costs only and does not include books, materials, or fees. Tuition costs net of other funding sources such as scholarships, stipends, discounts or grants (except the Pell Grant) are used to determine the amount of assistance. It is recommended completed applications be submitted at least four weeks prior to the start of the course, or prior to the tuition due date, whichever is first.
Eligibility Requirements for the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program – Updates to 18-19 FY eligibility requirements coming soon
To be eligible for funding consideration, applicants must meet all the following requirements. Meeting eligibility requirements does not guarantee funding.
- Pennsylvania resident;
- Working at a Keystone STARS designated early learning program, including Head Start and PA Pre-K Counts, and demonstrates continuous employment for at least 12 months;
- Working a minimum of twenty (20) hours weekly in a classroom setting or as the director, assistant director or education coordinator;
- Aides, Assistant Teachers, Teachers, Assistant Directors: Earning less than $40,000 annually;
- Child Care Center Directors, Family or Group Child Care Home Owners/Operators; Head Start Education Managers, Coordinators, Site Supervisors: Earning less than $50,000 annually;
- Agreeing to continue to work in a Keystone STARS facility for two months for every credit supported by the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program with two months beginning at the conclusion of the course for which funding was received. (Total time due will not exceed 24 months following the conclusion of the most recent course completed); and
- Maintaining a 3.0 GPA for the classes taken or degree program in which the student is enrolled.
- Pursuing an approved degree. See the list of approved degree programs.
Applying for T.E.A.C.H. or Rising STARS Tuition Assistance
Take these easy steps to get started!
- Go to the T.E.A.C.H. website and complete an intake form. This will determine to which tuition assistance program you are eligible to apply. If you are eligible to apply for T.E.A.C.H., follow the directions provided.
- If you are not eligible to apply for T.E.A.C.H., you will receive an email notification that you have been granted access to the Rising STARS Application. The New Application option will also be made available to you.
- If you are pursuing a Master’s degree, please see the Master’s Degree and Rising STARS Tuition Assistance section below for additional details.
Required Documents for Application Submission
The following documents must be submitted with your application. Incomplete applications or those submitted with missing documents may result in delayed or rejected funding.
- The Name of your Degree, which may be listed on your transcripts, degree audit or other documentation from your institute of higher learning
- Course information including Course Number, Course Title, Begin/End Dates of Course, Number of Credits. A course description is required for courses toward the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, Director Credential, or movement on the Career Lattice.
- Itemized Financial Billing Statement showing the cost of tuition for the course. The Billing Statement must indicate that the applicant has been registered for the course, and must state the course name and the tuition cost for that specific course. Fees or other costs should not be included in the tuition cost line.
- Transcript showing current DPA as of most recent completed semester. Official transcript with raised seal not required. (Not required only if this is the first course taken for this degree/certificate)
- Employer Attestation Form (PDF) completed by your Director.
Additional information, helpful for completing your application.
- How to Complete Your Application Online (PDF)
- Samples of Supporting Documents Required for Applications (PDF)
Submit all documentation with application or via fax to 717-213-0585 or 717-213-0584, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have not received a letter indicating approval, denial, or the need for more documentation to complete your application within two weeks of submission of your application, please contact email@example.com to ensure the application has been received and processed.
Determining Fiscal Year
The start date of the course determines the Fiscal Year.
- For Fiscal Year 2017-18, documentation for courses with a start date of July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018 must be submitted with application and all supporting documentation by June 30, 2018.
- For Fiscal Year 2018-19, documentation for courses with a start date of July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019 must be submitted with application and all supporting documentation by June 30, 2019.
- See the Samples of Acceptable Documentation for Courses (PDF)
Master’s Degree and Rising STARS Tuition Assistance
If you are pursuing a Master’s degree and have not received Rising STARS Tuition Assistance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request access to the New Application option.
If you are pursuing a Master’s degree and have received Rising STARS Tuition Assistance in the 2017-18 fiscal year, you have automatically been given access to the New Application option. You do not need to go to the T.E.A.C.H. link.
THE CDA ASSESSMENT FEE VOUCHER PROGRAM
The CDA ASSESSMENT FEE VOUCHER PROGRAM supplies payment for the CDA Assessment Fee that is required to complete the CDA Assessment process. The full CDA Assessment Fee of $425 is paid directly to the Council for Professional Recognition. This program does not reimburse individuals.
The Voucher Program for the CDA Assessment Fee is a two-step process. The first step is to apply for a Voucher. Applications are then reviewed and are either approved or denied. Individuals whose applications are approved receive 2 copies of the Voucher in the mail, which they must send one copy with their application to the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, DC. The Council is then paid directly by the PA Key.
To apply for CDA Assessment Fee Voucher click on “apply online” above.
If you are receiving funds from the Keys to Quality System, you are not eligible for the voucher program. (some exclusions may apply)
Please note: Effective January 1, 2018, the Council for Professional Recognition has increased the application processing for candidates submitting paper applications to $500. Candidates who utilize their online application system at www.cdacouncil.org, will continue to be charged $425. At this time, the CDA Assessment Fee voucher will continue to be valued at $425. Should you choose to utilize a paper application, you will be responsible for submitting the additional $75 fee in addition to the $425 CDA Assessment Voucher. Paper applications submitted to the Council with only the $425 CDA Assessment Fee voucher will be returned to the applicant.
RE: CDA ASSESSMENT FEE VOUCHER PROGRAM
Dear Head Start Professionals,
In the past, any Head Start agency who participated in STARS through the traditional route, was able to have their staff take advantage of the CDA Assessment Fee Voucher program. The program provides payment for the CDA Assessment Fee that is required to complete the CDA Assessment process. The full CDA Assessment Fee of $425 is paid directly to the Council for Professional Recognition. This program does not reimburse individuals.
With Head Start reciprocity, and all eligible Head Start agencies obtaining STAR 4, we will have to re-evaluate the availability of funding for vouchers for Head Start staff in 2018-19. However, for the remainder of this fiscal year (2017-18), we are pleased to be able to continue to support all Head Start staff working in STAR 4 Head Start agencies under Reciprocity, with the voucher program. All applicants must redeem their voucher by June 30th, 2018 if they are interested in taking advantage of this program.
The first step is to apply for a voucher – the application form can be found on the Pennsylvania Keys portal. Applications are then reviewed and are either approved or denied. Please provide a copy of the Reciprocity letter that your organization received from OCDEL as verification that you qualify for Reciprocity. Individuals whose applications are approved receive a voucher in the mail, which they must send to the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, DC, along with the CDA Application. The Council is then paid directly by the Pennsylvania Key.