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- Pennsylvania lawmakers boosted their network of state-owned universities by nearly 16% in operating fees, $ 552.5 million, which system leaders greet as the largest funding increase of one year it has yet received.
- The amount was included in the state’s fiscal 2022-’23 budget, which Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law last week. It also includes a one-time investment of $ 125 million in federal aid for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, or PASSHE.
- Chancellor Dan Greenstein has previously insinuated PASSHE’s recent merger – which has combined six institutions into two – will help ensure more state funding. State lawmakers will tend to reward efforts to solve PASSHE’s financial problems, system leaders have indicated.
Average government investment for more than a decade has largely caused PASSHE’s financial problems, observers have argued.
Legislators cut state funding to PASSHE around 2010, which coincided with a sharp decline in enrollments. Enrollment has since fallen by about 25%, with faculty leaders and policy experts saying the system’s subsequent tuition increases, intended to help balance its budget, have unpacked the contingent of low- and moderate-income students PASSHE created to serve.
To help rectify the system’s volatile finances, Greenstein followed the merger plan. It merged Bloomsburg, Mansfield and Lock Haven universities as the Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania, and it combined the universities of California, Clarion and Edinboro as Pennsylvania Western University, nicknamed PennWest.
The two new institutions each have their own value propositions, with Commonwealth University focusing on stackable credentials and PennWest specializing in online education. The consolidation is wide by the faculty, as some professors have said the system moving too fast to implement it.
With the merger completed, PASSHE now has 10 institutions.
The system about 88 600 enrolled students for fall 2021. In October, it asked for a 15% increase in government appropriations. And in April, his governing body voted to freeze state educationwith Greenstein proposing that state legislators will need to strengthen system funding so that it can stay at lower prices.
PASSHE said the $ 125 million one-time investment would be used in the system’s broader redesign.
The $ 125 million “will help these state-run universities equip themselves to serve even more students and expand faith programs for those seeking re- or skills,” said Cynthia Shapira, chairman of the board. a statement said.