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.
Why we need The Pennsylvania Promise
- Pennsylvania ranks 40th in the nation for the share of adults with an education beyond high school;
- The per capita funding for higher education in Pennsylvania ranks 47th in the nation;
- Low income graduates borrow at far higher rates (and higher amounts) than middle or upper income graduates;
- 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;
- 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;
- According to the Institute for College Access and Success, 70 percent of Pennsylvania students graduate with college debt;
- 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;
- 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;
- This proposal is in line with what New York, Tennessee and Oregon have done and can reduce debt for Pennsylvania students;
- In 2008, students and families paid approximately 36 percent of the cost of public college, by 2014 they paid approximately 50 percent.
Pennsylvania Promise Benefits:
We cannot reduce gaping wage disparities and boost workers’ pay if skills and education are lacking. Increased access to education is the fastest and best way to address wage disparities. Nearly three-quarters of Pennsylvania students graduate with debt. This hobbles them into the future and holds our economy back.
Pennsylvania Promise will open doors for students and keep students in school. It will help close the resources gap that has made a college degree such a huge hurdle for many low and middle-income students.
Let’s make the Pennsylvania Promise! Then let’s keep it.