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State unveils $31M tuition-funding program

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Gov. Mitch Daniels failed to get the legislature to bite on his plan to lease out the Hoosier Lottery in order to pay for two-year college scholarships.

So he's now he's using $31 million in federal stimulus funds to create a similar program for about 9,000 Hoosiers.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development today announced a new program today that will provide $6,000 over two years to pay for students to earn an associate's degree or a vocational certificate.

The scholarships, called Workforce Acceleration Grants, are earmarked for unemployed workers or their spouses, or students from impoverished families.

"Economic realities have placed a strain on many Hoosiers in need of a college degree at a time when higher education has never been more essential to our personal and collective prosperity. The Workforce Acceleration Grant offers welcome relief just when many of these individuals need it the most," said Teresa Lubbers, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education, in a statement.

The scholarships can be used at more than 50 college campuses around the state, including Ivy Tech Community College and IUPUI, as well as at for-profit educators like Harrison College and ITT Technical Institute.

The scholarships cannot be used for bachelors, graduate or any liberal arts programs.

The Workforce Acceleration Grants are a smaller program than Daniels proposed last year.

He wanted to spend about $50 million to provide $6,000 scholarships for students to enroll at state-supported Ivy Tech. Daniels wanted to cover students from families making about twice the federal poverty limit, or $60,000 for a family of four, projecting that about 24,000 students would qualify.

But his idea of leasing the Hoosier Lottery to a private operator never gained traction in the Indiana General Assembly. In 2007, Daniels also proposed leasing the lottery to pay for a mix of scholarships and a life sciences fund.

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