21st Century Scholars automatic enrollment bill passes Senate committee

A bill aiming to increase participation in the state’s 21st Century Scholars Program unanimously passed the Senate Education and Career Development Committee Wednesday.

House Bill 1449 is authored by Rep. Earl Harris Jr., D-East Chicago, and is sponsored by a number of Senators including Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville, Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, and others. The bill would automatically enroll students in the 21st Century Scholars program. It passed the Indiana House, 13-0, and was recommitted to appropriations.

“We want to make this as an automatic enrollment program to make sure that more of our Indiana Hoosier students have the opportunity to have funding and to continue their education,” Harris said

According to Learn More Indiana.org, “The 21st Century Scholars program provides up to four years of undergraduate tuition to income-eligible students at participating colleges or universities in Indiana.”

An amendment to the bill by committee chair Raatz, wouldn’t “affect the bill at all,” Raatz said, adding it would be to help legislators understand how the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) would qualify people to participate in the 21st Century Scholars Program.

Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary authored Senate Bill 435, which also dealt with the 21st Century Scholars Program. Similar to HB 1149 it passed the Senate Education and Career Development Committee but stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Xain Ballenger is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.