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– Building on a fourth consecutive year of freezing tuition and fueled by a
historic funding increase in state-owned universities,
the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) today launched the next and most impactful phase of its System Redesign. The new phase will help students succeed and graduate and position the System for long-term growth to meet the commonwealth’s critical need for workers.
“This is an exciting moment for the future of public higher education and the students we serve in Pennsylvania,” said Cindy Shapira, chair of the Board of Governors. “Higher education across the country is evolving, and Pennsylvania’s State System universities are adapting to it. This innovative new phase of our System Redesign will expand opportunities for students to help them enroll, succeed, graduate, and enjoy rewarding careers in Pennsylvania while strengthening the universities for the future.”
PASSHE launched its System Redesign in 2017 to address challenges affecting colleges and universities nationwide but acute in Pennsylvania. The multi-phase, Systemwide strategy is transforming education and university business models. The first two phases, which are complete, gathered information and stabilized university finances, enhanced governance and leadership, froze student tuition for four consecutive years, integrated six universities into two, and secured additional state funding. Phase three will develop, prioritize, fund, and implement strategies that expand student opportunities, driving System growth and its economic impact on the state.
“With the additional funding provided by the legislature and governor, the State System is moving forward with the most meaningful part of our redesign,” said Chancellor Daniel Greenstein. “To meet the workforce needs of the state, we must make higher education available to students who are traditionally underserved. The challenges and experiences of traditional college-age students, returning students, and working adults seeking a degree or short-term credentials are all vastly different. This redesign phase will position all of those students to thrive and graduate at our universities.”
Building on the success of phases one and two of System Redesign, phase three has five priorities:
Expand student opportunities and improve student outcomes
by increasing retention and graduation rates, reducing attainment gaps, and attracting non-traditional students, such as those ready for college but not considering enrolling, former students with incomplete degrees, and working adults who need short-term programs to earn industry credentials necessary to change jobs or advance their careers. Additionally, the System will increase the number of credit-bearing and non-credit bearing, non-degree credentials, support inclusive university communities and university integration, and increase shared programs and courses across universities.
Expand student affordability and grow
by increasing student financial aid, creating more affordable pathways for students to earn credentials, and growing partnerships with employers and state government to expand opportunities for students, including non-traditional and adult learners.
by ensuring universities’ programs are financially viable.
Enhance partnership with the state
by building on the governor’s and legislature’s renewed bipartisan trust to seek increased state funding and expand the state’s investment in direct-to-student aid.
Invest in people and infrastructure
by supporting professional development of faculty and staff to meet the evolving needs of students and enhancing information systems to enable collaboration among System universities.
Historic State Investment Fuels Redesign
The success of the first two phases of redesign strengthened PASSHE’s partnership with state leaders and secured a historic $75 million (16 percent) increase in base funding in the 2022-23 state budget. This is the largest single-year state funding increase in PASSHE history, and it enabled the System to hold tuition flat for the fourth consecutive year, despite inflation. The state also is investing $125 million in one-time funds to support System Redesign.
Power and Promise of Public Higher Education
Pennsylvania’s State System universities are driving upward social mobility for low- and middle-income students and communities, especially for underrepresented students with social and economic barriers to success, by providing the highest quality education at the lowest possible cost. System graduates from low-income families earn almost as much as graduates from higher-income families.
Public higher education is also an engine of workforce development, and System Redesign will ease Pennsylvania’s critical shortage of the well-educated workers that employers need to thrive. Six in 10 jobs require a college degree or credential, but only 51 percent of Pennsylvania workers have that education.
System universities work closely with local employers to address workforce needs, and last year created 23 new degree programs and 60 new certificate programs. The System conferred nearly 24,000 degrees and certificates in high-demand areas such as STEM, health, business, and education.
State System universities contributed $4 billion in economic impact to Pennsylvania, representing $8.30 for every dollar of state funds, according to a recent study. More than 800,000 System alumni live in Pennsylvania, and most state-owned universities are among the largest employers in their communities.
Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is the public university system of the commonwealth with a mission to provide a high-quality education at the lowest possible cost to students. With 90% of its students from Pennsylvania, PASSHE universities enroll the most in-state residents of all four-year colleges and universities in the state, most of whom stay in Pennsylvania after graduation. Across the system, PASSHE educates approximately 90,000 degree-seeking students with thousands more in certificate and career programs. The universities collectively offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas. There are more than 800,000 living alumni, most of whom live in Pennsylvania.
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