A pair of lawmakers in Pennsylvania has introduced free college legislation in the state’s General Assembly in a move that is expected to extend to both state universities and community colleges. This proposal has been dubbed the “Pennsylvania Promise.”
What do we know about the proposal?
Senator Vincent J. Hughs and state representative James Roebuck are sponsoring the bills in the House and Senate, respectively.
The “Pennsylvania Promise” has been compared to similar New York legislation and expects to expand access and affordability at Pennsylvania’s community colleges, state-owned schools and state-related universities.
The program would be administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, or “PHEAA.”
The new legislation could underwrite two years of tuition and fees for recent high school graduates who attend one of the 14 community colleges. Students with a family income of $110,000 or less per year could be eligible for four years of tuition and fees at a state-owned or state-related university. Similarly, students with a family income at $48,000 or less would also be eligible for assistance with costs concerning room and board.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisles are at least talking about the proposal
Kenneth Mash, who serves as the president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, defended the move, saying that it would help officials dealing with rising costs and declining enrollment. According to a statement with The Morning Call, he explained that he wants the move to get people talking about making college more affordable in Pennsylvania:
“We have a real crisis of affordability in Pennsylvania. I’m not Pollyannaish. I don’t think this is going to happen tomorrow or in this budget but if we don’t start the conversation nothing will change.”
In addition, he said that lawmakers on both sides of the spectrum have shown interest in at least talking about the proposal, which could an estimated $1 billion a year.