On its surface, a proposal to eliminate tuition waivers for the children of faculty and staff at state-owned universities likely will seem appealing to many state legislators.

But the proposal, by Republican state Rep. Brad Roae of Crawford County, would hurt the universities and be of little benefit to other students.

According to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, tuition waivers worth $7.9 million were awarded to more than 2,000 students of faculty and staff members during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Mr. Roae contended that eliminating the waivers would reduce tuition at the schools by $83.

His calculation is based on cost-per-student. But, as a practical matter, the actual cost of a waiver to a particular institution is not equal to the cost of tuition, which is derived from a host of factors. Eliminating the waivers probably would not produce even the $83 reduction predicted by Mr. Roae.

Tuition waivers are, of course, valuable benefits to faculty members. The inability of state-owned schools to offer the waivers would put them at a decided disadvantage in attracting faculty and would diminish the incentives for faculty and staffers to remain at state schools.

Before embracing an end to waivers, lawmakers should be careful to assess the cost of doing so.