1Amending the act of January 25, 1966 (1965 P.L.1546, No.541),
2entitled "An act providing scholarships and providing funds
3to secure Federal funds for qualified students of the
4Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who need financial assistance to
5attend postsecondary institutions of higher learning, making
6an appropriation, and providing for the administration of
7this act," <-further providing for eligibility of scholarships 
<-8establishing the Distance Education Program.

9The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
10hereby enacts as follows:

<-11Section 1. Section 4(a)(6) of the act of January 25, 1966
12(1965 P.L.1546, No.541), referred to as the Higher Education
13Scholarship Law, is amended to read:

14Section 4. (a) Any student is eligible for consideration
15for a State scholarship providing:

16* * *

17(6) The State scholarship recipient shall be free to
18[attend] enroll at any approved institution of his choice and
19apply the scholarship toward the tuition, room, board, books and
20fees of that institution, regardless of the percentage of credit

1or clock hours required for completing a program of study
2through online courses. The institution is not required to
3accept the scholarship recipient for enrollment, but is free to
4exact compliance with its own admission requirements, standards
5and policies.

6* * *

<-7Section 1. The act of January 25, 1966 (1965 P.L.1546,
8No.541), referred to as the Higher Education Scholarship Law, is
9amended by adding a section to read:

10Section 8.5. (a) The Distance Education Program is
11established in the agency to approve distance education programs
12and to provide grants to students who enroll in approved
13distance education programs.

14(b) The agency shall administer and establish guidelines for
15the distance education program. The agency may collect student
16and school data to assess the performance of the distance
17education program, provided that such collection complies with
18the rights and responsibilities certification document of the
19Pennsylvania State Grant Program as administered by the agency.

20(c) An institution of higher education may submit an
21application to the agency for approval to participate in the
22distance education program. The application must be submitted in
23such form and manner as prescribed by the agency.

24(d) The agency shall review requests submitted under
25subsection (c) and, if the institution meets the criteria
26specified in the definition of "institution of higher education"
27and "approved distance education program," shall approve the
28request. The agency shall approve requests related to all
29academic majors that are eligible under the State grant program.

30(e) The agency may award, from funds appropriated, allocated

1or otherwise made available to it, grants to students who are
2enrolled in approved distance education programs at
3participating institutions of higher education. The agency shall
4establish a policy to ensure that awards are made in a
5consistent manner throughout the award year.

6(f) A student enrolled in an approved distance education
7program shall submit an application for a State grant from the
8agency. The application must be submitted in such form and in a
9manner as prescribed by the agency.

10(g) The agency shall review an application submitted under
11subsection (f) and, based on available resources, if the agency
12concludes that the applicant has financial need, may award a
13State grant to the applicant to cover the cost of full-time or
14at least half-time study in the approved distance education
15program at an institution of higher education approved for
16participation in the distance education program.

17(h) A grant awarded to a student under subsection (g) may
18not exceed per award year the amount the student would receive
19under the State grant program for the same award year.

20(i) This section shall apply to academic years 2013-2014
21through 2017-2018.

22(j) This section shall expire June 30, 2018.

23(k) The following words and phrases shall have the meaning
24given to them in this section unless the context clearly
25indicates otherwise:

26"Approved distance education program." A program of study
27offered by an institution of higher education that is approved
28by the agency and meets the following criteria:

29(i) The program is at least two academic years in length.

30(ii) Completion of the program leads to the attainment of a

1recognized academic credential.

2(iii) The program of study shall allow an eligible student
3to take more than fifty percent of credits or clock hours
4through distance education for each payment period in which the
5eligible student is enrolled.

6(iv) The program must be pursued by students on a full-time
7basis or at least a half-time basis.

8"Distance education program." The Distance Education Program
9established by this section.

10"Eligible student." A student who is otherwise eligible for
11the State grant program, notwithstanding the distance education
12requirements of the State grant program.

13"Institution of higher education." A postsecondary
14institution that participated in the State grant program as of
15June 30, 2012, and is domiciled and headquartered with its
16principal physical location in this Commonwealth.

17"Physical location." A location with qualified on-site
18administrative staff responsible for the overall administrative
19operation of all educational activities, including, but not
20limited to, instructional oversight, counseling, advising,
21library services and maintenance of academic records.

22"State grant." A grant or scholarship awarded under this

24Section 2. This act shall take effect <-in 60 days. July 1, 
252013, or immediately, whichever is later.