A Pitt-Bradford program that had been in hibernation during the fall semester due to funding limitations is back in business thanks to a gift from Pennsylvania General Energy of Warren, part of an educational tax credit program through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
The $35,000 gift, along with funding from Pitt-Bradford and the Bradford Area School District, allows qualified high school students to take classes at Pitt-Bradford for free through the university’s Bridges program and therefore earn college credits.
The gift also helped reduce tuition for some students in another Pitt-Bradford program called College in the High School, in which qualified high school teachers teach Pitt-Bradford classes in their high schools.
An earlier incarnation of the Bridges program had students pay one third of the cost of a class at Pitt-Bradford, but the new funding formula allows students to be fully reimbursed for the class if they earn at least a B.
Thirty students from Bradford Area High School are enrolled now for the spring semester, said Vicky Pingie, associate director of admissions, and are taking history, composition, Introduction to Sociology, psychology, economics, writing and business management.
Abbey Newhouse and Jodi Wichensky both took classes in the fall semester (paying for a portion of the tuition themselves) and signed up for classes again this semester.
Newhouse chose to take Composition I, a freshman course required by most colleges, in the Fall and Composition II in the Spring.
Newhouse said she wanted to get those first-year courses out of the way before attending college. She also wanted to “get a better feel of being in a college classroom.”
“It’s different to adjust to,” she said. “(Students) have more freedom, and (professors) are not constantly bothering you about your work.”
Wichensky took Introduction to Psychology during the fall and is taking sociology this term.
“It’s definitely different than in high school,” she said. “You have to do the reading on your own. The tests are a lot longer and a little more challenging, and they expect you to have the homework in on time.”
Participating students have to be second-semester juniors or seniors with at least a 90 percent average to qualify, Pingie said. Faculty, she said, love Bridges students.
Dr. Helene Lawson, professor of sociology, does.
“They are motivated, concerned, hard-working students who are dedicated and serious about their education,” she said. “Their research projects and oral presentations are among the best in the class. I believe that taking a college class encourages them to want to continue on with their education when they graduate high school because they become aware of their outstanding capabilities and potential.”
PGE made its gift to Pitt-Bradford through a special Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development program that allows it to receive tax credits for its gift. Companies have to pre-qualify with the state on a strict schedule, as did Pitt-Bradford.
If more companies participate in the program, more students will be able to take the classes for free.
More students could also benefit from reduced tuition for College in the High School courses. Currently, there are more than 200 students enrolled in the CIHS program, which allows them to get college credit for college classes taught by their high school’s faculty in their school.
The PGE gift made possible a $25 reduction in the cost of tuition for some of those students last fall. Students in CIHS pay a greatly reduced cost of $125 per class.
Interested businesses that must pay certain types of taxes in the state of Pennsylvania may qualify to redirect up to $300,000 of their PA tax liability to an approved Educational Improvement Organization such as Pitt-Bradford. The taxes include Corporate Net Income Tax, Capital Stock Franchise Tax, Bank and Trust Company Shares Tax, Title Insurance Company Shares Tax, Insurance Premiums Tax, Mutual Thrift Institutions Tax and some Subchapter S-corporations.
For more information whether a business may qualify for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, contact Rick Esch, vice president of business affairs at Pitt-Bradford, at (814)362-0992 or firstname.lastname@example.org.