HARRISBURG -- When Newswatch 16 met Daniel Le, he was supposed to be in class at Shippensburg University, but the college sophomore had a good excuse for missing class.
"I emailed my professor and he said I could miss my class to come here," said Le.
Le came to the Capitol building in Harrisburg to see Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center unveil a new report called The Pennsylvania Promise. The groups backing the plan believe it could make paying tens of thousands of dollars in tuition at a state-run university a thing of the past, at least for some Pennsylvania students.
"This is not free college. This is affordable college for Pennsylvanians," said Kenneth Mash, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
"We've designed this in a way that restores affordable college for the broad middle class,” said Stephen Herzenberg.
The Pennsylvania Promise would:
- Cover two years tuition and fees for high school graduates planning to attend a community college
- Cover four years tuition and fees to a state school for high school graduates*
- Provide grants for high school students planning to attend a state-related school like Penn State University
- Provide grants for adult learners who don't have a college degree
* Families must make equal or less than $110,000 a year
The plan would cost about $1 billion and needs more support from lawmakers.
"We're supposed to be proud of going to college, and we're supposed to feel great about it, but a lot of times debt, loans, it leaves people feeling regretful," said Le.
Le wasn't just here to listen. He's an advocate for the plan which would prevent students like him in the future from stacking up debt. Le has a few years until he graduates and already has $30,000 in debt.
"It's something always on my mind, and sometimes it's hard to focus on school when you know everything reminds you that you're being financially destroyed," said Le.
The report recommends pulling from other state tax revenues including money that comes from fracking.
Keystone Research Centers hopes to share its plan at several state colleges this year. If it gets the OK in Harrisburg, The Pennsylvania Promise could be in place as early as fall of 2019.