December 9, 2013– Rep. Greg Lucas (R-Erie/Crawford) today in Harrisburg announced he plans to introduce two bills aimed at increasing enrollment at Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities, thereby increasing job opportunities throughout the Commonwealth.
“We need to give our state-owned universities the flexibility to compete for students with schools from other states,” Lucas said. “At the same time, we want to make attending a state-owned university an attractive option for smart kids who live in our Commonwealth.”
Lucas’ first bill would allow Pennsylvania high school seniors to pay a reduced application fee of $5 on the third Thursday of every October to apply to PASSHE schools. The undergraduate application fee at Edinboro University and Slippery Rock University is currently $30. The fee at Clarion University is currently $35 for online applicants and $40 for those who apply online.
His second bill would empower each PASSHE university to set its own tuition rates for non-Pennsylvania residents, which would allow them to compete with schools from other states for students. The PASSHE Board of Governors currently sets tuition levels for all students at state-owned universities. Lucas’ bill would allow each school’s council of trustees to set tuition rates for out-of-state students, but would require those rates to be at least as high as the tuition rate charged to in-state students.
“We have heard a lot about ‘brain drain’ and the fact that we are losing college graduates and young professionals to other states,” Lucas said. “My bills are about ‘brain gain.’ We want to bring smart high school graduates to our state-owned universities and show them what Pennsylvania has to offer.”
“Edinboro University competes to attract students from Pennsylvania as well as Ohio, New York and across the nation,” said Julie Wollman, president of Edinboro University. “Because of our geographic location, we would benefit from the flexibility to provide more competitive tuition rates to attract out-of-state students. The tuition and fees from these students would in turn benefit our Pennsylvania students by enriching their campus experience.”
Lucas said the increased enrollment that could result from his bills would help to spur economic activity at the universities and their surrounding communities.
“Putting more students in desks at state-owned universities will help to drive economic growth on those campuses and the broader economy,” Lucas said. “Additional students definitely create the need for on-campus jobs like professors and faculty positions. They also spur economic activity within the cities and towns where they live, buy groceries, order out for pizza and engage in countless other daily transactions.”
Lucas is currently in the process of seeking co-sponsors among his House colleagues before the bills are officially introduced, provided with bill numbers and referred to a House committee.
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