home > career development > Financial Assistance

Career Development

Financial Assistance

The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) supports the professional development efforts of early childhood and school-age practitioners in many ways:

Low cost professional development opportunities

Click here to log in, and go to the professional development registry to view opportunities available to you. 




 FAQ Click here to read the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program Frequently Asked Questions.


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 Pell Grants) are used to determine the amount of assistance.  Please submit a completed application at least 4 weeks prior to the start of the course or prior to the tuition due date, whichever is sooner.


Effective, July 1, 2016 Applicants will be able to enter multiple courses for a Semester into one application for the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program.  When completing an application to add an additional course please go to Section 4 Course Information and click on the link CLICK HERE TO ADD A COURSE.  

Applicants will no longer be required to submit a PA State Certificate of Compliance or a Keystone STARS Certificate with their supporting documentation.

Eligibility Requirements for the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program:

  • 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 2 months for every credit supported by the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program (maximum commitment of 24 months); and
  • Maintaining a 3.0 GPA for the classes taken or degree program in which the student is enrolled. 

 Applying for the Tuition Assistance Program, How to complete your application online.

Sample of Supporting Documents for 2016-17 Applications 

The Start date of the course determines the Fiscal Year.  For Fiscal Year 2015-16, courses with a start date of July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016, must be submitted to the Program in complete form (Application with all supporting documentation) by June 30, 2016.  For Fiscal Year 2016-17, courses with a start date of July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017 must be submitted to the Program in complete form (Application with all supporting documentation) by June 30, 2017.

Please have your Director complete the Employer Attestation Form and submit the form by attaching it to your application, by fax to 610-987-8400 or you may mail the form.

*Applicants cannot participate in both the T.E.A.C.H. and the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program within the same Fiscal Year.

Rising STARS Facility Supplement

Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program - Facility Supplement is contingent on the availability of funds.  Rising STARS Tuition Assistance - Facility Supplement requests will be processed based on submission dates of complete applications each semester.  Incomplete applications cannot be processed and will be returned.  Please click here to access the application.  Applications from students enrolling in classes will be given priority for processing and approval.

Questions? Contact us at Pennsylvania Key Zendesk or 800-284-6031 press option # 4. 


T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® PENNSYLVANIA scholarships now available for Keystone STARS directors and staff.

As part of the 2016-17 state budget, OCDEL, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA), will fund more than 1,000 T.E.A.C.H. scholarships for eligible professionals in DHS-certified Keystone STARS programs.

T.E.A.C.H. scholarships are a partnership between the sponsoring child care program, scholarship recipient, and OCDEL so that:

  • Scholarship recipients receive funding for tuition, books, travel, paid release time (from their sponsoring early childhood education program) and a bonus or raise after each successful scholarship year.
  • Sponsoring early childhood education programs receive funding for substitutes so the student can attend class or study, and a commitment from the student to stay at the program for an additional year after each scholarship year. Sponsoring programs agree to cover the cost of the bonus or raise.
  • The early childhood field gains, higher retention and higher compensation for a more educated workforce.

 Eligible applicants:

  • work approximately 25-30 hours per week directly with children in a DHS-certified child care program participating in Keystone STARS;
  • make $19 or less an hour ($25 or less per hour for directors) and
  • are interested in pursuing coursework at a participating college (at least 9 credits per year) toward a degree or credential in early childhood education. Applicant may apply for scholarships for a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential; CDA Assessment, Associate's degree; Bachelor's degree; or PA Teacher Certification.

 For more information and to apply, visit PACCA’s website at http://tiny.cc/PACCA-TEACH. Retroactive scholarships are available for students already enrolled for Fall 2016. Scholarships are also available for the upcoming Spring and Summer 2017 semesters.

Applicants cannot participate in both the T.E.A.C.H. and the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program. 

NEW! The Office of Child Development and Early Learning has released Supports for ECE Professionals in Keystone STARS Programs which reflects funding for the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood ® PENNSYLVANIA Scholarship and the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program in 2016-17. This document can help early childhood education directors and staff in Keystone STARS programs identify eligibility and what it covered under each 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 – the application form can be found below. Applications are then reviewed and are either approved or denied.  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 PA Key.

To apply for CDA Assessment Fee Voucher - Download the CDA Assessment Fee Voucher ApplicationTo access the online application, please login to your pakeys.org account using the login tab on the top right of this page.  Once logged in, please select the "Tuition Asst and CDA Voucher Applications" link on the left-hand side of your screen.  Then click on the "Apply online" link that will be available in the box on the upper right-hand corner of the screen and complete the application.


Questions? Contact us at Pennsylvania Key Zendesk or 800-284-6031 press option #4  



Tuition Discount at Point Park University

Point Park University is offering 34% Tuition Discount to early care and education professionals effective Summer 2014.  The University also accepts students who are recipients of the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program.  Some classes are also offered online.  For detailed information visit the website for Point Park University’s Tuition Discount.


copyright © 2009 PA Keys