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Appropriation would fund systemwide and regional initiatives
– The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education voted today to request $550 million in state funding for the next fiscal year as part of a renewed partnership between the State System and the Commonwealth.
The request exceeds last year’s general operating appropriation by $73 million. In combination with cost-saving measures taken over the last several years, this historic increase would put the System on an even more stable financial footing.
“This request is vital to the future and mission of the System,” said Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira. “It reflects what our data modeling shows will be needed for the PASSHE institutions to operate effectively while remaining affordable, one of our primary goals. Fulfilling this request would send a clear signal that the Commonwealth wants to invest in every current and potential student – the future workforce that will drive Pennsylvania’s economy.”
The $73 million state funding increase will enable the System to continue implementing plans for university integrations that were approved in July; to further invest in the diversity, equity and inclusion plan approved in April; and support other initiatives while reducing universities’ dependence on additional budget cuts or tuition increases.
The System’s 14 universities have trimmed nearly $173 million from their operating budgets since 2018, adding to the $400 million in savings achieved in the previous 18 years. This focus on financial sustainability, in combination with investment in strategic priorities, will ensure that each university continues to fulfill its mission of providing a high-quality education at the lowest possible price for years to come.
In addition to the annual general fund appropriation request, the Board endorsed a proposal to direct funds to students with a twofold goal: to reduce the financial burden on students, and to ensure students have the resources to complete their degree.
Keeping higher education affordable for all students has been a priority of the Board of Governors and Chancellor Dan Greenstein, and it is also essential to Pennsylvania’s future. This focus has been a center point of Greenstein’s effort to renew the System’s partnership with the Commonwealth through the Governor’s Office and the General Assembly.
“Public higher education is the keystone of Pennsylvania’s economy and one of the most reliable pathways for social mobility. We have a responsibility to our students and the Commonwealth to open this pathway even further,” Greenstein said. “We look forward to continuing our work with Commonwealth to ensure that every Pennsylvanian has access to a high-quality, low-cost education, regardless of their ZIP code, race or background.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, Dr. Denise Pearson offered updates on the State System’s coordinated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, actions to improve campus climates, diversify the curriculum and build enabling infrastructures. Pearson also shared information about the upcoming State System DEI Summit, which will bring together experts from across the Commonwealth and the country to build upon and elevate the promising Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives across the State System.
In other discussion, Dr. Kate Akers, who heads the System’s Advanced Data Analytics team presented information that demonstrates how powerfully the State System universities act as engines of economic development and social mobility, as well as the return on investment of a PASSHE degree both for our graduates and the Commonwealth. Through a partnership with the state Department of Labor and Industry, new information was analyzed that shows graduate employment and earnings data three, five and 10 years post-graduation.
The data indicated that the vast majority of PASSHE graduates stay in Pennsylvania for work after graduation—71% three years after graduation and 63% ten years out. It also showed that graduates are launched into sustaining careers and that income differences that separate them at their enrollments are significantly reduced.
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education oversees 14 four-year public universities educating more than 93,000 students. The State System offers more than 2,300 degrees and certificates in more than 530 academic areas. The State System universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities of Pennsylvania.
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