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New Economy Technology Scholarships-New Areas of Eligibility

Each year the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) consults with the Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board (PAWIB) to determine education content areas critical to the economic growth of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that should be promoted through the New Economy Technology Scholarship (NETS) program.  PAWIB identifies high priority occupations, and PDE identifies academic programs that would prepare for those occupations.  For NETS purposes, those academic programs should be science and math and/or technology based.

The NETS scholarships have been offered since 1999.  PHEAA administers the scholarship program; additional information on application, internships, work requirements and the like may be found at http://www.pheaa.org.  

Listed here are the newly identified eligible content areas for the Sci-Tech (baccalaureate level) and Tech (associate and certificate level) scholarships. Below are tables for each scholarship level for the 2008-09 application year and the 2009-10 application year.

              New Areas of Eligibility for 2008-2009 Sci-Tech Scholarships (PDF)

              New Areas of Eligibility for 2008-2009 Tech Scholarships (PDF)


              New Areas of Eligibility for 2009-2010 Sci-Tech Scholarships (PDF)

              New Areas of Eligibility for 2009-2010 Tech Scholarships (PDF)


              New Areas of Eligibility for 2010-2011 Tech Scholarships (PDF)


              New Areas of Eligibility for 2011-2012

No changes to NETS eligible programs for Sci-Tech and Tech are being made for the 2011-2012 year.


New Economy Technology Scholarship (NETS)

The New Economy Technology Scholarship program was established by the General Assembly in 1999 through the New Economy Technology Scholarship Act.

The purpose of the program is to provide an incentive to Pennsylvania students to pursue higher education and training in science and technology fields, which are essential to economic development in this commonwealth. Further, the act is intended to create a sustained pool of highly training technology workers, which will improve this commonwealth’s ability to attract and retain business.

Information on Determining Eligible Programs for NETS:

UPDATED: 10/28/08

The statute establishing the New Economy Technology Scholarships (NETS) set a collaborative plan for its implementation.  PHEAA is charged with administration of the scholarship program.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is charged with determining eligible programs for the scholarships in consultation with the Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board (PAWIB).  PWIB determines occupation areas critical to the state’s economic development.  Overall, PDE determines the eligible areas of study by program content related to science and technology, and by whether the programs are in fields critical to the economic growth of the state.

PDE believes that many certificate, associate and baccalaureate programs are either obviously eligible (biology, computer science, engineering and the like), or they are obviously ineligible (music, fine arts, literature and the like).  For the programs for which eligibility remains unclear, upon request PDE will conduct a review of the program for NETS eligibility.   For review of program eligibility at institutions, the institution’s financial aid office should contact PDE at 717-772-3623 or fax the relevant information identified below to the attention of Carol Gisselquist at 717-772-3622.

The process PDE uses to determine program eligibility for NETS is multifaceted: 

1) We will ask for the federal CIP (Classification of Instructional Program) code for each program and each award credential or degree level to be reviewed.  The description of the content for the code assigned the program will give PDE a general understanding of how the institution views the program.

2) PDE will also ask for the specific information that would be in the school’s course catalog about the program, including the stated purpose of the program and the required courses.  Please note that the eligibility for NETS is by whole program, not by concentration within a program.  Therefore, the required courses for the program will determine whether the program is eligible or not, unless all of the concentration area courses would have appropriate content for NETS eligibility.  Generally speaking, an associate degree program should contain about 12-13 courses or 36-39 semester credits of coursework relevant to the scholarship program to be eligible for NETS.  A baccalaureate degree program should contain about 15-16 courses or 45-48 semester credits relevant to the scholarship program to be eligible.

3) All of that information will be reviewed in light of the purpose of the scholarships and the areas of study identified by PWIB as critical to the state’s economic growth.  Some variation within the above criteria will be considered.  Note, however, that some programs are not eligible for NETS even though they are critical to the state, such as nursing and teacher education programs, even if it is a program like ‘biology teacher’ or ‘mathematics teacher’.  If a student has a double major, for example in ‘biology teacher education’ and ‘biology’, the student may apply for NETS under ‘biology’.

4) Review of individual programs throughout the year by request of schools will result in notification from PDE regarding program eligibility by a formal statement sent via email from PDE to PHEAA, with a copy to the financial aid office.  If a program is eligible, the email notification will identify which NETS PHEAA code to be used for the program for student application purposes.

5) Additionally, PDE consults with PWIB annually to update the eligible program areas.  Periodically, PDE will also conduct a major review of the eligible programs and the associated PHEAA codes.  Such a comprehensive review was conducted for implementation in the 2007-08 academic year.  Through the annual review and consultation process, new program areas may be identified as eligible, such as the allied health areas added in 2007 and 2008. 

6) Appeal of a PDE determination on program eligibility may be made.  The appeal would be reviewed by an inter-agency committee of PDE and PAWIB representatives at their yearly consultation session with advice from PHEAA.  To appeal, please send a letter to the attention of Carol Gisselquist at:

PDE - Division of Higher Education

333 Market St., 12th Floor

Harrisburg, PA  17126-0333

The appeal should be based on sound rationale that addresses the purposes of the NETS scholarship program and should state the specific reasons for requesting a review by the committee for the relevant program.  The appeal request with all appended information will be presented to the committee for consideration.  Notification of the decision of the committee will be made to the appellant financial aid office and to PHEAA as relevant.  The committee’s determination is final.

Questions regarding student or institutional eligibility and applications for the NETS Program should be directed to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) at 1-800-692-7392, or by visiting PHEAA’s Website.

For additional information, please contact:

Division of Higher & Career Education |
Pennsylvania Department of Education - Postsecondary and Adult Education
333 Market Street. 12th Fl | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 717.783.8228 | Fax: 717.772.3622
ra-pls@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us