Free College

Posted: June 20, 2007

THE PLAN by state Rep. Tony Payton, D-Philadelphia, to offer full tuition to Pennsylvania residents who enroll in a state college or university sounds good to us.

Called the Reliable Educational Assistance for College Hopefuls program, or REACH, Payton's idea is modeled after similar tuition scholarship programs in other states, including Florida and Georgia. REACH would pay for high school students with a 3.0 grade-point (or "B") average, have an 85 percent attendance record, and are state residents three years before graduating.

The most intriguing requirement is REACH recepients must remain in Pennsylvania four years after graduation. This will reduce "brain drain," where recent grads leave the area, and act as an economic stimulus.

It differs from another state funded scholarship plan, H.B. 108 introduced this year, which has academic requirements.

The Payton plan hasn't been formalized into a bill yet; before it does, he should raise the bar on those attendance requirements to something closer to 90 percent.

Still, the idea of a state funded tuition plan should remain on the legislative radar screen and seriously debated. *

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