HARRISBURG – Declining enrollment and the cost of higher education highlighted Thursday’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearings on the 2023-24 budget requests for state-related universities and the State System of Higher Education.
The proceedings wrapped up the second of three weeks of budget hearings. Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget. Projections indicate it will nearly wipe out the state’s Rainy Day Fund in five years.
State-related universities are requesting huge increases in taxpayer support: Penn State University seeks a 47.6% increase in funding; University of Pittsburgh, 6%; Temple University, 16%; and Lincoln University, 25.3%. The governor’s budget proposal increases funding by 7.1% across the board.
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- Declining enrollment presents a serious challenge to Pennsylvania’s state-related universities. Lawmakers encouraged the schools to work together to identify ways to deal with enrollment issues.
- Concerns were raised about the increasing cost of higher education and brain drain, particularly considering the potential softening of the nation’s economy. Lawmakers urged the universities to continue to support entrepreneurship and keep more of our graduates in Pennsylvania.
- The universities were questioned about what they are doing to help veterans earn college degrees.
State System of Higher Education
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has requested a total of $685.4 million, an increase of $133 million, or 24.1%, over the current year’s budget. The governor’s budget provides a 2% increase.
- Demographic changes and enrollment issues pushed the consolidation of several PASSHE schools last year. PASSHE detailed some of the financial challenges they continue to face during the integration process.
- Creating new partnerships with employers was suggested as a way to ensure students get the skills they need to meet the demands of the workforce.
- The PASSHE Chancellor reported that learning loss during COVID continues to create a drag on 4-year and 6-year graduation rates in the State System.
- Community colleges are working with PASSHE schools to strengthen degree and credit transfer programs.
You can find the hearings schedule, livestreams, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at PASenateGOP.com.
CONTACT: Jason Thompson