Contact Information 

Meadville District Office
900-920 Water Street
Downtown Mall
Meadville, PA  16335
Phone (814) 336-1136
Hours 8 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. (M-F)

Fairview Office (Mondays Only)
Fairview Township Building
7471 McCray Rd., Fairview, PA
Hours 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Monday)
1-800-770-2377

Cranesville Office (Thursdays Only)
Cranesville Borough Office
10195 John Williams Ave.
Cranesville, PA 16410
Phone: 1-800-770-2377
Hours 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Thursday)

Capitol Office
Hon. Brad Roae
162B East Wing
Harrisburg PA 17120-2006
Phone: (717) 787-2353
Fax: 717-782-2902

E-mail:
  broae@pahousegop.com

Keep Tuition Affordable at State-Owned Universities
8/20/2012
The 14 state-owned and -operated universities collectively known as the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) are an asset to our Commonwealth. Unfortunately, due to ever-escalating tuition rates, it is becoming harder and harder for low- and middle-income families to afford to send their kids to PASSHE universities.

That is the reason I introduced the Keep Tuition Affordable package of legislation. These 10 bills are aimed at driving down tuition costs so that the sons and daughters of working-class families can continue to reach for the dream of a university diploma. These are commonsense reforms aimed at helping PASSHE to fulfill its mission to provide a quality education at the lowest possible cost.

For example, one of my bills would end the practice of allowing the children of PASSHE workers to attend one of the universities without paying tuition. After all, the sons and daughters of professors making more than $100,000 should not get a free ride while farmers and factory workers have to take out second mortgages to send their kids to state universities.

PASSHE schools take pride in being “teaching universities,” where professors spend time in the classroom, as opposed to “research universities,” where professors spend a great deal of time performing experiments and publishing papers. However, under the current union contract, up to 7 percent of PASSHE professors may be out on sabbatical at any given time. That is 7 percent of professors who are collecting a paycheck without teaching our students.

As a result, I introduced a bill to eliminate sabbaticals for PASSHE professors. The professors’ union – the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) – was quick to oppose this suggestion that might benefit students. In fact, at a recent House State Government Committee hearing about the bill, an APSCUF representative actually said that ending professor sabbaticals would only “hurt the students.” According to his argument, it would be the students who would miss out if professors had to remain in the classroom instead of traveling to Africa to study an endangered species.

Another one of my bills would make activity fees optional for students. These fees contribute to the escalating cost of a PASSHE diploma. Students who do not participate in extracurricular activities are forced to subsidize them for the students who do.

The truth is, while many families have been forced to cut back on their expenses, PASSHE schools have continued to raise tuition rates the past several years. In fact, while the inflation rate (as measured by the Consumer Price Index) was a mere 1.7 percent this past year, PASSHE raised tuition for students by more than 3 percent.

Most of that is attributable to expensive pay and benefits packages provided to APSCUF members. In fact, approximately 80 percent of university expenses are directly related to pay and benefits. Under the current union contract, professors received a 6 percent raise in 2008, a 6 percent raise in 2009, and an 8 percent raise in 2010. In 2007, they each received a $1,750 “signing bonus.”

The answer from the universities and the professors’ union has often been “send more state dollars.” However, that money can only be sent if it is first taken out of the pockets of taxpayers. Right now, taxpayers are being stretched to the limit.

Perhaps it’s time for APSCUF-represented professors to make some sacrifices “for the students.” That should be a no-brainer as the union and the Commonwealth negotiate a new contract.

It’s time for the needs of taxpaying, working-class families and their children to be more strongly taken into consideration in contrast with the wants of six-figure-salary-earning, union-represented professors. Pennsylvania needs to keep tuition affordable.

State Representative Brad Roae
6th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Dan Massing
dmassing@pahousegop.com
717.772.9845
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