Pennsylvania Promise

Free and Affordable Education for All

One of the most troubling challenges facing many students and families across Pennsylvania is the high cost of education.  This is often such a high hurdle that many students simply forgo a college education and are prevented from acquiring the skills necessary to gain better positions with higher wages.

The education gap caused by a lack of access to college or advanced education is, for many low-and-middle income students, the one faction preventing them from gaining traction in the workplace.   In our increasingly complex and high-tech economy, it is essential that we make, then fulfill, the promise to Pennsylvania students:  YOU will have access to a high-quality education without the burdens of crippling debt.

That’s what the Pennsylvania Promise is all about.   The Pennsylvania Promise is available to students with family incomes of $110,000 or less.  It provides for grants of at least $1,000 per year for community college students for two years and a minimum of $2,500 per year for four years to Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Schools and state related institutions.

The program also provides $50 million for adults in families whose incomes are less than $110,000 to acquire up to four years of postsecondary credit.

Help us make the Pennsylvania Promise a promise fulfilled.

    • Contact your legislators and tell them to support Pennsylvania Promise. (Click here to look up your elected officials.) Not sure what to say? Click here for sample messages.
    • Sign our petition calling for Gov. Tom Wolf to support Pennsylvania Promise legislation.
    • Spread the positive message about Pennsylvania Promise on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram using #PApromise. You can even add a #PApromise overlay to your Facebook profile photo.
    • Attend a Pennsylvania Promise rally.
    • Organize your own rally or house party. Email to get started.
    • Share your higher-education story. Click here to submit information.
    • Give. Whether you can contribute $1 or $1,000, you can help make higher education affordable in Pennsylvania.


What Does Pennsylvania Promise Mean To Us

36% of students don't know where there next meal will come from.

“Still Hungry and Homeless in College” by the Wisconson Hope

One in four community college students are hungry.

Nearly 1 in 10 students have gone a whole day without eating in the past month

Temple University and Wisconsin Home

In the past year, 12% of community college students and 9% of university students have slept in shelters.

LGBTQ and African American students are more likely to be food and housing insecure.

56% of all first-generation students are food insecure.

NBC News

57% of black students report food insecurity.

NBC News


Cover two years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate enrolled full-time at one of the Commonwealth’s 14 public community colleges

Provide four years of tuition and fees not to exceed the State System tuition rate, depending on family income, for students accepted into a state-related university

Cover four years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate with a family income less than or equal to $110,000 per year accepted into one of the 14 universites in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education

Finance the expansion of grant assistance to adults seeking in-demand skills and industry-recognized credentials, as well as college credit

Pennsylvania Promise

Latest News


Their Stories

Keeping the Promise


Senate Bill 111 and House Bill 244: 

The bills aim to make higher education free or affordable at public community colleges, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and state-related universities that receive state funding. Pennsylvania Promise would be available to recent high school graduates as well adults seeking in-demand skills and industry-recognized credentials, as well as college credit. The goal of the program is to reduce student debt and assist low and middle-income families with paying for higher education.

Why we need The Pennsylvania Promise

Pennsylvania ranks 40th in the nation for the share of adults with an education beyond high school

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, 70 percent of Pennsylvania students graduate with college debt

The per capita funding for higher education in Pennsylvania ranks 47th in the nation

Every student who is accepted to a school and has been reviewed for appropriate federal, state and institutional grants has an option to fund the “last dollars” and get that student into school

Low income graduates borrow at far higher rates (and higher amounts) than middle or upper income graduates

Research estimates that by 2020, 63 percent of new jobs in Pennsylvania will require some level of higher education. Currently only 40 percent of Pennsylvania residents have a higher education degree.

A 2013 Brookings Institute study showed that many high-achieving students from low-income families do not apply to some college or universities because of cost;

This proposal is in line with what New York, Tennessee and Oregon have done and can reduce debt for Pennsylvania students.

A 2015 study found that increased college costs reduce minority enrollment. A $1,000 tuition and fee increase would reduce minority enrollment by more than 2.5 percent

In 2008, students and families paid approximately 36 percent of the cost of public college, by 2014 they paid approximately 50 percent.