How the Pennsylvania State Budget Could Affect College Students
At the beginning of every semester, there is a magical day when all things are right in the world. What day may you ask? I am referring to college refund disbursement day. Many students here at Bloomsburg University rely on this refund, including me, to cover costs such as rent and as well as other day-to-day financial needs. However, if you are a recipient of the PHEAA grant, this refund will be postponed, possibly indefinitely. So what’s the hold up? Well, the disputes over the Pennsylvania State Budget are to blame.
According to The Philadelphia Tribune, there is an impasse between Democrats and Republicans on key issues resulting in a more than 70-day stand still on the state budget. So, what are these key issues, and why can’t both parties get along?
Tom Wolf, democrat and current Governor of Pa., released a budget in late March of 2015 with two important main elements. They included; the increase of funding for higher education by $148 million, with $45.3 million devoted to colleges and universities in the Pennsylvania System of State Higher Education, as well as enforcing a severance tax on the Marcellus Shale sector. These seem like simple requests, but the Republicans didn’t necessarily think so. The Republican- controlled General Assembly submitted a budget that claims to raise funding for education without having to raise taxes. The GOP backed budget was later vetoed by Wolf due to zero mention of the taxes of natural-gas drilling. He also claimed that it is balanced with one-time revenue and gimmicks and would not do enough statewide as well as for higher education funding.
Although the Democrats are not willing to budge on their demands, the GOP has some requirements of their own. They do not want to raise taxes and they are pushing for a plan that reforms public pensions. With it being Wolf’s first year as well as being out-numbered by the majority of the Republican party, only time will tell when this stalemate will end. The budget, which was supposed to pass at the end of June, is now expected to pass, hopefully, by the end of October.
What exactly does this have to do with us as college students?
Well, The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), is a quasi-governmental agency that offers funds for higher education and student aid programs. With the budget being in limbo, PHEAA cannot disperse the funds allocated to students until there is a decision. Therefore, the school is treating it as non-dispersed funds.
So, if you see a charge due on your account, don’t freak. We just need to wait for our state government to get their act together.
Hold on to hope my brothers and sisters! We may not be able to receive our refunds today, but we can try and look forward to the glorious day once again where we don’t have to eat ramen for a week straight.