In 2009, Temple will spend more than $41,000 on scholarships for four Philadelphia School District students as part of the new Temple University Philadelphia Scholars program.
Since beginning its capital drive in 2002, the university has raised more than $253 million in the school’s largest fundraising campaign in history.
The university deserves praise for creating this program, which will directly benefit Philadelphia students and the city, as The Temple News reports this week [“Four local students get full ride,” Kriston Bethel, March 25, 2008]. The scope of this generosity, however, has been blown out of proportion by Temple’s media staff and the local news outlets with extensive coverage of the announcement.
Enticing these graduates to stay in Philadelphia is a good idea, and Temple will benefit from their abilities as students. But four graduates will not change the city or the university. If Temple and the Nutter administration are serious about keeping college graduates in the city, it will take more than sending a few of the city’s brightest kids to school for free each year.
All state-affiliated schools in Pennsylvania have a lower tuition rate for in-state students. This makes sense not only because residents’ tax dollars help to fund educational costs, but also because Pennsylvania residents who study in Pennsylvania are likely to stay here.
The same can be said for Philadelphia students. Temple students from Philadelphia pay taxes to the city that help to fund the municipal services that Philadelphia provides and all Temple students take advantage of. It’s also more likely that they will find a job in the Philadelphia region after graduation.
The funds for this tuition reduction would not have to come from scholarships. By increasing in-state tuition to non-Philadelphia residents and adding a third tuition rate for Philadelphia residents, every Philadelphia student would have an increased opportunity to go to college and continue his or her education.
The Temple University Philadelphia Scholars Program is a step in the right direction. We hope it’s a small step and the first of many.