Will PA’s Higher Education System Ever See an Increase in Funding?

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February 15, 2014 by ag5454

By: Amy Gulino

February 15, 2014

VIDEO

On February 4, 2014, Governor Tom Corbett is to announce his proposed budget for PA. Funding continues to be flat for the PA state system of higher education (PASSHE) since the 18% cut in 2011. Is this the year funding will increase for PASSHE?

Future Funding

Funding has remained flat since 2011 but that is not good news. PASSHE is still losing money due to inflation. Optimism, right now that all PASSHE has going for them. There is no certainty that Gov. Corbett will increase the funding to higher education public schools for the 2014-15 budget?

These budget issues cannot be solved over night, but PASSHE is asking for a short-term solution. They are asking for a 4% increase to the base budget and a one-time influx of $18 million. The money will help universities invest in new, high-demand programs that will prepare students for business, energy, and manufacturing.  

There is a plan for a PA stimulus and it includes an increase in small games of chance and Keno. The Keno game is projected to bring $80-120 million in revenue to the state. The game is also a way to attract a younger demographic into playing the lottery.

Will PASSHE see any of it?

The Future of PASSHE

Former Shippensburg University President, William Ruud, said universities are economic drivers. If funding does not increase, the outcome could be detrimental to the future of the commonwealth.

  • 90% of students enrolled in the PASSHE are from Pennsylvania
  • 83% of graduates from PASSHE schools will remain in the state

The 4% increase to the PASSHE budget is necessary but lawmaker’s intentions are unclear. Last year PASSHE requested a 2.8% increase to their base budget to cover inflation but it was not approved. As of last year, PASSHE lost $8.25 million from inflation.

Lack of funding leads PASSHE leaders to find creative ways to recruit students. Increasing the number of students is just another short-term solution. The more students they add, the more professors they will need, and there is simply no funding available.

No one is clear about how the future of PASSHE its students, or its professors. Student debt is already at an all-time high. If tuition continues to increase what decision will students be forced to make? Will they look out of state for a more economical education? Maybe, they don’t attend college at all. Joe Sestak said it well, higher education funding should be mandatory, not discretionary.

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