Rep. Allyson Schwartz stopped by the University of Pittsburgh Monday to renew the universal Democratic criticism of Gov. Tom Corbett's education policies while offering a few ideas on how a Schwarz administration would make college more affordable.
Ms. Schwarz, one of the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination to challenge Mr. Corbett, told about a dozen students gathered by her campaign that she would work to increase the state's higher education funding while calling on state colleges and state-related universities to freeze college tuition for two years. The Montgomery County lawmaker said she would work to make sure that the state's support for higher education was "appropriate and sustained,'' but she did not place a specific dollar figure on her commitment.
"I didn't want to put a hard number on it; exactly what the dollars and cents of every year depends on what the revenue would look like,'' she said after speaking with about a dozen Pitt students at the school's student union. " ... but I will commit to it being a priority of mine.''
She suggested that college administrators would be willing to accept her call for a tuition freeze because they "would know they have a governor interested in restoring the cuts over time.''
"I don't see this as a threat; I see this as working together,'' she added. She also called for raising the family income ceiling to $110,000 for eligibility for direct grants from the state's higher education assistance agency. Ms. Schwartz said she would bolster the state's community college system by creating a program to reward students who complete an associates degree and wish to go on to a bachelor's program.
She said she would create a program that would bridge the financial gap between the price of tuition at a state system university and the whatever grants and loans an associate graduate could assemble. That aid would also be available to a community college graduate attending a private school, but only up to the tuition level of the state system. Once agains, however, she did offer details on the amount of that award, or its overall cost to the state.