The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 26, 2012

Higher ed overhaul

We applaud lawmakers for passing reforms

— It’s not often that the state House and Senate come together to do anything unanimously. They did just that in passing badly needed reforms that will benefit the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education.

More importantly, the changes, billed as the most sweeping since the system’s formation in 1982, should ultimately help students and their parents by keeping down tuition and other costs in obtaining an education.

As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, new laws clear the way for the universities to raise more revenue by offering doctorates and allowing professors to “commercialize” their research of new products to financially benefit both themselves and their schools.

Among those who can take advantage of the changes is Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which, by the way, remains the only school in the system that can offer a doctor of philosophy degree.

“Everyone understood the necessity of this action. By revising some of the legal barriers and obstacles, we have enabled the system to save or earn millions of dollars,” Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester, Senate Education Committee minority chairman, told the Inquirer.

Added Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the system, “It could have a very significant impact. It really puts us on a level playing field with every other college and university, not just in Pennsylvania, but across the country.”

In the latest round of tuition hikes, IUP and the 13 other system schools recently announced a 3 percent boost for 2012-13.

This fall, full-time, in-state undergraduate tuition will be $6,428. Full-time nonresident undergraduate tuition will range from $9,642 to $16,070 depending on the university and the program.

When you add on room, board and other related costs and take it over four or five years, the cost of a college education is leaving many stu-dents and their families financially strapped come diploma time.

The changes approved by our Legislature should ease some of that burden.

While we applaud the move, we’re still left to wonder what took so long.

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