Mayor Kenney is committed to his bold-new anti-poverty initiative, the Octavius Catto Scholarship. This will make Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) tuition-free for eligible full-time students and drastically improve college access and persistence.

With the uncertainty of COVID-19 hitting our families and students, the Catto Scholarship will provide a way forward ensuring that more students obtain postsecondary degrees and credentials so they can prepare to enter the workforce and have fulfilling careers. As a result, students will be able to focus less on their finances and more on their education and achieving their dreams. 

What is the Octavius Catto Scholarship?

The Octavius Catto Scholarship (Catto Scholarship) uses a “last-dollar” funding model that’s been adopted by dozens of other cities and states. This means that it covers students’ outstanding tuition balance after they have received federal, state, and other financial aid. 

The City will invest $47.4 million over the next five years in the Catto Scholarship, which is projected to support over 4,400 students, known as Catto Scholars. This investment is in addition to $39.3 million in City operating support to CCP over each of the five years, for a total of $196.5 million over five years. 

Catto Scholars will receive both tuition support as well as many academic resources and services, such as: 

  • $1,500 toward the cost of books, food, and transportation. 
  • Career coaches and advisors to help them stay on track. 
  • Connection to existing resources like affordable housing, childcare, and other services. 

Who is eligible for the Catto Scholarship?

To become a Catto Scholar, students have to be:

  • Graduates of a Philadelphia high school, PA cyber charter, or homeschool program. 
  • First-time-to-college, full-time students.
  • A Philadelphia resident for at least 12 months.

Students also must: 

  • Complete the FAFSA and document an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) below $8,000. 
  • Meet college readiness requirements.

Undocumented students are also encouraged to apply. CCP will work with the students to determine income eligibility. 

Who is Octavius Catto and why is the Scholarship named after him?

Octavius V. Catto was an abolitionist, activist, athlete, scholar, and educator during the early 19th century in Philadelphia and fought for the rights of Philadelphia’s African American community through education. In September 2017, Mayor Kenney unveiled a statue in Catto’s honor at the south apron of City Hall.   

One of Mayor Kenney’s goals is to ensure that all Philadelphia students learn about Catto’s work and be inspired to follow in his footsteps.