Big Push In Pennsylvania To Offer Tuition Relief


Governor Rendell Takes A Stand Against Rising College Tuition Rates

universityWithout a doubt, these are the most challenging times our nation has faced in at least a generation. And, for the family of a college student, keeping their adult children in school may be a challenge they can no longer face.

With pension plans decimated, investments taking a whack and college funds drained, droves of students may be looking at dropping out of college instead of continuing with their education.

Helping Families Manage College Costs

In Pennsylvania, Governor Edward G. Rendell is offering a plan to help strapped families, one that he hopes will keep students in school especially at colleges in-state.

“The national economic downturn has worsened the crisis facing families who are struggling to save for college,” Governor Rendell said during a visit to the Community College of Allegheny County’s Allegheny Campus. “Many families who saved diligently for their children’s education have watched those savings quickly evaporate – through no fault of their own. That’s why it’s essential for the General Assembly to approve my plan right away.”

As part of the Governor’s 2009-10 budget proposal,the Pennsylvania Tuition Relief Act would include all incoming students who qualify and seek to attend state-owned or community colleges, paying what they can afford in accordance with established financial aid practices. With this plan, every family will pay at least $1,000 a year for each child in college.

Big Relief For Low & Moderate Income Families

For families with income under $100,000, students could obtain as much as $7,600 in relief for tuition, fees, room and board. This relief will greatly enhance the affordability of higher education, Governor Rendell said.

If promptly approved by the General Assembly, the plan would start this fall with incoming freshmen. To pay for this program, the Governor proposed that the commonwealth enact legislation to legalize video poker and tax its proceeds – an idea that has been well-received by the public. Other states have successfully generated hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue using this approach.

Under the Tuition Relief Act:

  • Everyone will pay something, but a student pays only what he or she can afford.
  • Many families earning less than $32,000 a year will pay just $1,000 for tuition, fees, room, board and books.
  • Every family that qualifies will receive thousands of dollars in tuition relief, and many will save as much as three-quarters of the total bill for tuition, fees, room, board and books.
  • Families that do not qualify for PHEAA grants but who earn less than $100,000 a year also will benefit, more than doubling the number of State System students receiving state-funded financial aid grants. These families will receive a grant for half the cost of tuition – about $2,700 in savings at the State System.

In addition to providing immediate aid to families, Governor Rendell said his tuition relief plan also would alleviate the often crushing debt that too many college graduates bear.

“Three out of four students who graduate from our public universities begin their professional life with massive debt, averaging nearly $19,000 a student,” the governor said. “That debt often hampers their ability to establish their careers, purchase a home and start a family.”

For more information on the Tuition Relief Act and Pennsylvania’s other education initiatives, visit the Department of Education Web site at or

Other States Considering Similar Initiatives

Pennsylvania isn’t the only state seeking to help her residents. New York, Michigan and South Carolina are among the states looking at ways to help families cope, possibly tapping promised funds from the recently passed Obama stimulus package to help people out.

Adv. — You can take control of your finances by managing your credit and by keeping your debt under control. Don’t allow tough times to hammer your financial position, visit to access all of our credit management guides and tools.


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