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Lawmakers plan new fund to pay for postsecondary training – money to come in 2025

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FILE PHOTO: Justin Hicks
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IPB News
A provision that would have allowed 21st Century Scholars funds to pay for postsecondary certifications was removed from a bill on Thursday.

A bill that would have expanded a college scholarship program was changed Thursday to create a separate fund for post-secondary training instead. Lawmakers will decide on the details of this new fund in 2025.

House Bill 1001 would have let high school graduates use money from the 21st Century Scholars program to pay for training, certificates and credentials – instead of college.

Some lawmakers raised concerns about fundamentally changing the purpose of the 21st Century Scholars program.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Ryan Mishler (R-Mishawaka) addressed those concerns with an amendment creating a new fund to pay for post-secondary training.

“We’ll create a new fund which would give time during the next budget cycle to fund that fund,” he said.

Lawmakers will create this new program next year when they write the state’s new two-year budget.

HB 1001 would also expand a scholarship program for students with disabilities to include their siblings, despite concerns from several Democrats.

READ MORE: How do I follow Indiana’s legislative session? Here’s your guide to demystify the process

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The Indiana Education Scholarship Account Program provides money to students with disabilities to pay for tutoring, educational programs, therapies and other support.

The bill would make ESA funds available to the siblings of students who have disabilities, even if those siblings do not have disabilities themselves.

Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) asked the committee to hold off on the ESA expansion. He said the program started in 2021 and lawmakers need more time to evaluate how it’s working.

Qaddoura also said that if lawmakers expand the program now, there might not be enough money there for the students the accounts were originally created for.

“The dollars are limited,” he said. “We will have a future by which folks who are benefiting from the ESA are going to come back and say there’s not enough money in that pot.”

However, the committee defeated Qaddoura’s amendment. The bill now goes to the full Senate.

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

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Kirsten the Indiana Public Broadcasting education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.