Harris, Roebuck and Sen. Hughes introduce legislation pushing for free and affordable college for Pa. college and university students

HARRISBURG – June 6, 2018 – State Reps. Jordan Harris and James Roebuck, both D-Phila., joined Sen. Vincent J. Hughes, D-Phila./Montgomery, to introduce legislation for the Pennsylvania Promise initiative, a program that would make college free and affordable to many students across the state.

The legislators were joined by guests from the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) President Ken Mash, dozens of APSCUF members, a student and other members of the House and Senate announcing Senate Bill 1111 and House Bill 2444.

“Helping our students should be priority number one,” Senator Hughes said. “I’ve heard from far too many college students who are struggling to make ends meet. They’re starving and some can’t maintain stable housing throughout the school year. They need something like PA Promise to make college reality.”

The bills would:

  • Cover up to four years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate enrolled full-time at one of the Commonwealth’s 14 public community colleges.
  • Cover up to 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 at one of the 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education or a state-related university.
  • Cover room and board for any recent high school graduate with a family income less than or equal to $48,000 per year at a community college, state-owned or state-related institution.
  • Provide additional funding:
    • to increase access to adults seeking in-demand skills and industry-recognized credentials, as well as college credit.
    • to increase access to apprenticeship programs.
    • To supplement federal work study money.

“The pressures of getting into a good college can be stressful. The overwhelming cost that comes with it should not be one of them,” Rep. Roebuck said. “Graduates should be able to concentrate on getting good jobs and starting families, not be concerned with drowning in debt for years to come.”

PA Promise would be a last-dollar funding source, meaning students eligible for the award would receive the award up to the cost of tuition, room and board. The program is aimed to help students directly as the average student loan debt in 2017 is more than $37,000 and a total of $1.4 trillion in total student loan debt is carried in the U.S., according to debt.org.

“There are far too many young people in our commonwealth who have to fight to attend a two year or four-year college and the cost is an extra burden for many families that they cannot shoulder,” Rep. Harris said. “This legislation would make getting a quality education a reality and the economic possibilities for our state endless. The Pennsylvania Promise is just one of many steps we need to take in order to build an inclusive and equal society."