Currently based on the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Pennsylvania ranks 47th out of 50 states for funding of higher education. College tuition in Pennsylvania is skyrocketing out of control due to the lack of state funding. Two weeks ago, based on Penn State News, the Board of Trustees approved a $264 per semester increase for in-state students and a $400 per semester increase for out-of-state students for the 2013 to 2014 school year. Ironically, this increase was to keep tuition “low” and to prevent further state appropriation cuts. Increasing costs by $400 is not the problem. The problem is the repeated pattern of increasing tuition and fees every single year by $400. According to the US Department of Education, in 2008-2009 almost one-third of the thirty most expensive public universities were located in Pennsylvania. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania graduates have the second highest amount of debt in the entire nation.
Starting almost two decades ago, several states, including Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia, and New Mexico, have begun utilizing lottery money towards educational scholarship programs. Georgia’s base program, HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally), was the first enacted in 1993. Currently based on GAcollege411, the HOPE Scholarship provides about 70% of tuition. To qualify, a student must earn a 3.0 GPA in high school and throughout college. The other program, the Zell Miller Scholarship, provides full-tuition to any in-state student attending an in-state public institution. The requirements include a 3.7 GPA, minimum ACT or SAT scores, and students must maintain a 3.3 GPA throughout college to keep the scholarship.
We need to sign a petition to send to Governor Tom Corbett proposing the usage of a portion of lottery earnings for a merit scholarship for in-state students attending in-state public universities.