Rendell Urges Swift Action on Tuition Relief

STATE COLLEGE – Gov. Edward G. Rendell today discussed how his landmark tuition relief proposal could help hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania families while building a world-class workforce during a gathering of state and national leaders in higher education.

“Building a world-class workforce requires a world-class education – and that means a postsecondary degree,” the governor told attendees at Pennsylvania’s first-ever conference on higher education access, affordability and success.

“We not only have the ability to make college more affordable and accessible, we have the moral obligation to do it,” Rendell added. “If we make college more attainable to anyone who wants to further their education, regardless of income or background, we will build a better workforce in Pennsylvania, a better economy, better communities and a better quality of life.”

As part of his budget for 2009-10, Governor Rendell has proposed a landmark Tuition Relief Act that, if enacted quickly by legislators, could provide relief this fall to thousands of Pennsylvanians who want to attend any one of the commonwealth’s 14 state-owned universities or 14 community colleges. The governor’s plan would make college tuition more affordable for every Pennsylvania family earning less than $100,000 a year and help more than 170,000 students once in place.

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 of Higher Education students receiving state-funded financial aid grants. These families will receive a grant for half the cost of tuition – amounting to about $2,700 in savings.

Being held in State College, “The Governor’s Conference on Higher Education: Pathways to College Success” is a two-day forum for state and national higher education leaders to address the growing crisis in college access, affordability and success. The governor addressed conference attendees to discuss his tuition relief proposal and other efforts the commonwealth has made to rein in college costs.

In addition to tuition relief for Pennsylvania families, the governor’s 2009-10 budget also includes a $35 million increase in Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) tuition grants. This increase will dedicate $10 million to provide grants to nearly 10,000 additional community college students while ensuring that other college and university students do not lose their grants as a result of a reduction in contributions to student grants by PHEAA.

Both of the governor’s higher education proposals will enable 20,000 additional students to seek college degrees in these challenging economic times.

For more information, please visit the Governor’s Conference on Higher Education Web site. For more information on the Tuition Relief Act, visit the Department of Education Web site. For details about Rendell’s proposed budget, visit here.

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