Harris: Pennsylvania Promise provides elevator out of poverty

HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – Citing the negative statistics regarding higher education in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., House Democratic Whip, today joined fellow legislators and advocates to announce the reintroduction of the Pennsylvania Promise initiative in the Capitol Media Center.

“The cost of a college education has risen exponentially over the past twenty years, with averages across the country more than tripling,” Harris said. “Over that same time, wages have not grown at nearly the same pace, making a college education unattainable for too many Pennsylvanians.”

Pennsylvania currently ranks 47 in the nation in higher education funding per capita and dead last in U.S. News’ Best States 2018 report in regards to higher education. State system students’ real tuition and fees increased 51 percent since 2000 while the median student debt for state system students increased 132 percent between 2000 and 2015.

“We should be tearing down barriers to education, not building them,” Hughes said. “The growing costs of higher education and the exploding rates of debt are having an increasingly negative impact on our state. It is time we support our learners and give them the best opportunities for prosperity.”

“It is absolutely crucial that our students be given every chance to succeed and grow within their learning communities,” Roebuck said. “I could not imagine trying to start out after college with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, essentially paying a second mortgage. We are creating a crisis for our newest graduates and our economy. This is about providing more people with a shot at the American Dream without crippling debt.”

The Pennsylvania Promise would take several steps to increase the affordability and attainability of higher education, including:

  • cover up to four years of tuition and fees at one of the commonwealth’s 14 public community colleges.
  • 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 and accepted into one of the 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
  • 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.
  • finance the expansion of grant assistance to adults seeking in-demand skills and industry-recognized credentials, as well as college credit.

“The Pennsylvania Promise will help make up for Pennsylvania’s terrible record on properly funding higher education and, most importantly, help our students prepare to be successful upon graduation,” Harris said. “Education is the elevator out of poverty for so many families, but for too long, it’s had an out of order sign on it. It’s imperative that we do everything we can to make higher education more affordable.”