Ed Rendell, Pennsylvania’s 45th governor attended West Chester University Thursday, Feb. 12 at noon in Phillips Memorial Building to discuss college tuition relief and economic recovery. Accompanying Rendell was State Senator Andy Dinniman, D-19th, of West Whiteland.Rendell began by creating a very visual picture that our economy is at an all time low right now. He explained to an audience of West Chester University students that over 70,000 jobs have been lost within the last eight months and now more than ever families are facing the harsh reality that they may not be able to send their children to college.
“For most families sending their kids to college means having at least a $20,000 debt by the end of four years,” said Rendell.
With an idea to make Pennsylvania college tuition more affordable for low to middle class families, Gov. Rendell is introducing the Tuition Relief Act this coming fall, starting with next year’s freshmen, which includes legalizing video poker.
According to state police there are already between 17,000 and 25,000 illegal gaming systems in Pennsylvania now, and legalizing these poker games could free up more time for investigation on violent crimes or drugs.
If this act is passed, bars, taverns, pubs, and clubs would be allowed to have up to five gaming machines in their establishment if they choose. All Pennsylvania residents attending a state college or community college could benefit and have an opportunity for lower tuition costs. According to Rendell, “by the time the Pennsylvania Tuition Relief Act is fully in place, $550 million will be funded by video poker, enabling more young people to get an education.”
The Tuition Act is not to support video poker gambling, but rather to take the proceeds made and put it towards a greater cause. This act has been passed within the last decade, once in Oregon, whose Higher Education System is ranked as one of the top five Education Systems in the United States. $150 million a year of proceeds from video gambling funds the Education System.
This act is targeted towards families who earn less then $100,000 a year, and do not qualify for the PHEAA Grant. These families will receive a grant equal to 50 percent of the total tuition cost. According to State System, that is a $2,700 discount. Families will be able to pay what they can afford, but will all have to pay something.
State Representative Curt Schroder, R-155th, of Downingtown, and state Rep. Duane Milne, R-167th, of Willistown both oppose the act that could benefit that many people. Milne said, “I don’t see this as being the year to do something like this.” For many families though, this tuition relief could not come at a better time. “If there is a year to do this, this is the year,” said Rendell.
Caitlyn McNamee is a fourth-year student majoring in Professional Studies and minoring in Journalism. She can be reached at CM645986@wcupa.edu.