STATEMENT: Applauding “PA Promise” Bill Reintroduction To Make College Affordable and Boost PA Economy

HARRISBURG — The Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center applaud the reintroduction of the Pennsylvania Promise (SB111 / HB244), legislation that would make college debt-free and affordable for Pennsylvania students.  The legislation is based largely on a plan jointly released by PBPC and KRC in January titled “The Pennsylvania Promise: Making College Affordable and Securing Pennsylvania’s Economic Future.”

“To raise incomes and increase opportunity, we must emphasize access to post-secondary education and training in Pennsylvania,” said Stephen Herzenberg, Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center. “If the state does not expand access to higher education to more of its citizens, the Commonwealth’s economy will suffer and living standards will lag behind growth elsewhere.”

Currently per capita funding for higher education in Pennsylvania ranks 47th out of 50 states. The increase in state spending required under the Pennsylvania Promise would raise Pennsylvania’s rank to 36th. Beyond that:

  • Thirty-five years of state disinvestment have left Pennsylvania ranked worst in the nation when it comes to higher education, sunk in the rankings by students’ high debt at graduation and the state’s high tuition and fees, according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • The state ranks 40th for the share of adults 25-64 with an education beyond high school.
  • In over half of Pennsylvania counties (35), the share of adults with more than a high-school degree is lower than in any of the 50 states (i.e., lower than West Virginia’s 48.1%).

“This legislation lowers the cost of college, not just for students attending community colleges, but also those attending four-year universities. Anyone who cares about Pennsylvania, particularly those parts of the state underserved by affordable, accessible higher education, should be leading the charge for Pennsylvania to enact the Pennsylvania Promise,” said Marc Stier, Director of the PA Budget and Policy Center.