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New PHEAA Chairman

 
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority (PHEAA) is in the press once again, this time because it has announced the appointment of a new chairman. William F. Adolph, Jr., was elected to be the next Chairman of the PHEAA Board of Directors; he will be the seventh board chairman in PHEAA's history.

In a recent press release, Adolph accepted his position graciously and expressed his desire for change, saying, "The financial burden on college students and families can be tremendous. As a seasoned PHEAA board member and the father of three boys, one of whom is still in college, I have dealt with the rising costs of higher education from a variety of firsthand perspectives. I am eager to serve as chairman and to continue fulfilling our mission of helping Pennsylvania students reach their potential."

Adolph was initially appointed to the PHEAA board in 2001 after having served on the executive committee since 1989. On top of his work with PHEAA, Adolph also chairs the House Professional Licensure Committee and serves on the Consumer Affairs Committee.

Led by the board, PHEAA plans to allocate more than $200 million in 2007 for free programs and services. For example, PHEAA will focus on scholarships, loan forgiveness, and the nation's lowest-cost student loans. PHEAA will use $72.5 million of its own funds to supplement the Commonwealth's $386-million state grant appropriation and thereby supply more grants to students.

PHEAA is able to financially support these public initiatives with funds earned commercially, via American Education Services (AES).

PHEAA has made the headlines frequently over this past year due to its guilty verdict in a case concerning its violation of the state's Right-to-Know Law. In a 5-to-2 ruling, PHEAA was ordered by a Commonwealth Court to disclose various documents. PHEAA continues to move forward despite the guilty verdict issued in June by a retired county judge who served as a hearing examiner during the process.

The judge recommended that PHEAA make its spending records public, but the agency insisted that it would keep its documents undisclosed. PHEAA attempted to form a rebuttal to the reporters' demands for disclosure. The first claim was based on the fact that all but four of the 20 board members are legislators and argued that certain documents in question ought to be considered "legislative recordings," which would make them exempt from the Right-to-Know Law. The second claim pointed out that the records contained "trade secrets" that divulged PHEAA's success in the marketplace. To PHEAA's dismay, the court rejected both claims. After PHEAA's stubborn reaction, the news organizations appealed to the Commonwealth Court, which ruled in their favor.

Since then, PHEAA has called for an appeal.




 


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