Democratic & Republican Lawmakers, Higher Education Leaders, Business Leaders, and Students Praise Governor Shapiro’s New Blueprint for Higher Education: “A Crucial Moment in Pennsylvania’s History”
January 26, 2024
“The governor’s proposal is a real opportunity to build upon the strengths of PASSHE universities and the community colleges. Together we can create a new, larger system with better collaboration that gives students more pathways to a degree or credential, rapidly adjusts to the changing knowledge and skills employers want, and provides the lowest-cost option for students throughout their lifetime.”
– PASSHE Chancellor Dan Greenstein
“We’re excited to work with Governor Shapiro on this bold new proposal to do even more for students, colleges and our communities – especially capping tuition costs for working families and their students.” – House Democratic Leaders
Click the image above to watch PASSHE Chancellor Dan Greenstein talk about the Governor’s proposal.
Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Josh Shapiro released a new blueprint for higher education in Pennsylvania, focused on competitiveness and workforce development, and grounded in access and affordability.
Under the Governor’s plan, higher education will serve as an economic driver for Pennsylvania, prepare workers for the future, and address workforce shortages by:
- Creating a new system to address Pennsylvania’s needs that unites our PASSHE universities and 15 community colleges under a new governance system.
- Increasing access and affordability, including ensuring Pennsylvanians making up to the median income pay no more than $1,000 in tuition and fees per semester at state-owned universities and community colleges.
- Increasing transparency and improves outcomes by proposing that direct appropriations to publicly funded colleges and universities be distributed on the basis of a predictable, transparent, outcomes-focused formula that will incentivize colleges and universities to focus on what’s most important to the Commonwealth.
Read what higher education, business, and government leaders are saying about Governor Shapiro’s higher education blueprint.
DEMOCRATIC & REPUBLICAN MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
“Pennsylvania House Democrats consistently strive to maximize support for students at state system schools and community colleges.
“For too long, we’ve let students accumulate significant debt for their education, hindering their ability to work in their chosen field and contribute to the local economy upon graduation. Pennsylvanians carry the third largest student debt load in the nation. We need to make it easier and more affordable for students to attend our state schools, which provide vital job training and a quality higher education for tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians every year and remove barriers for students transferring between schools here in the commonwealth.
“We’re excited to work with Governor Shapiro on this bold new proposal to do even more for students, colleges and our communities – especially capping tuition costs for working families and their students.
“We look forward to examining the proposal further and finding ways to cut costs for working families across the commonwealth to help people get the education they need for the careers they deserve here in Pennsylvania.” – House Democratic Leaders
“I greet the Governor’s higher education blueprint with excitement. As we grapple with dysfunction in higher education and the burdens of student loan debt, we must reimagine our systems in Pennsylvania to set up our students for success and prepare them for the demands of the modern workforce. The Governor’s plan will strengthen our State System of Higher Education and our community colleges, make higher education more affordable for those who want to seek it, and provide a better governance structure providing for better continuity in our workforce training pipeline and for transparency and accountability. I look forward to continued conversations with all partners and stakeholders coming to the table as we go forward in developing this plan.” – Democratic Leader Senator Jay Costa. Senator Costa is a proud alumnus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, as well as the Community College of Allegheny County, where he presently serves as a board member.
“For me it’s always going to be about one thing – making sure our college students have the shortest, most affordable path to getting the degree they need in the field they want so they can have the career and the life they deserve. For too long we’ve put up hurdles to our students – students of every age – who are doing the work to improve their lives.
“The end result is higher student loan bills causing too many people to abandon their dreams. A student starting their journey at one of our community colleges and deciding to move to a state system college shouldn’t need to add a year of classes – and tuition – to their plan. Students shouldn’t have to equate a better future with decades of debt.
“The governor’s plan to streamline operations is a great proposal that aligns with the modern changes we’ve been pushing for, and my committee is going to work hard to get the facts on what works and what we can do better for the students – because what’s good for them is good for our commonwealth in the long run.” – House Education Committee Majority Chairman, Rep. Peter Schweyer
“The Governor’s proposal has the potential to transform higher education in Pennsylvania. Making higher education affordable has been priority for me and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and I applaud Governor Shapiro’s focus on tackling Pennsylvania’s shortcomings head on. I look forward to hearing more and working with him to make the Commonwealth’s higher education offerings the best in the nation.” – Senator Vincent Hughes, Chair of the Appropriations Committee
“The Governor has proposed an innovative plan to revitalize higher education in the Commonwealth. During my tenure as a PASSHE board member, I’ve come to recognize the necessity of approaching higher education in a more comprehensive manner. This blueprint is a great starting point that I am excited to support and help further develop.” – State Senator Judy Schwank, who sits on the PASSHE board of governors.
“I look forward to evaluating the specifics of this proposal further, but I am pleased with the overall approach and direction Governor Shapiro is taking. I applaud the aggressive move towards performance-based funding, something I have long advocated for.” – Sen. Ryan Aument
“Pennsylvania employers continue to report challenges finding qualified applicants to fill open positions. It’s critical that we re-think how our educational system is preparing students for the career opportunities that exist today and into the future. We appreciate Gov. Shapiro convening stakeholders to examine the current system and we look forward to reviewing the many consequential aspects of his proposed plan. We also appreciate the governor’s emphasis on reforming the higher education system as it relates to strengthening Pennsylvania’s workforce, which is critical in meeting the needs of employers, employees, and communities.” – Luke Bernstein, President and CEO, PA Chamber of Business and Industry
“Team PA is the state’s nonpartisan partner in bringing leaders together to grow Pennsylvania’s economy, and our economic health is directly tied to the health of our workforce. This plan for higher education presents the opportunity for more people to participate fully in Pennsylvania’s economy – directly tied to one of Team PA’s goals – while strengthening the direct connections to local businesses, ultimately making them more competitive. It’s a win-win.” – Abby Smith, President and CEO of Team Pennsylvania Foundation
“Undoubtedly, this is a crucial moment in Pennsylvania’s history, and Governor Shapiro’s emphasis on the state’s health and vitality resonates strongly here in Centre County and the Centre Region. Workforce challenges are a common concern for employers across the board, and the diminishing workforce puts Pennsylvania at a significant disadvantage both now and in the future. I believe that the Governor’s vision to strengthen Pennsylvania and enhance its competitiveness is a step in the right direction. The Higher Education Blueprint, with its focus on providing greater access for our students, making higher education more affordable for those most in need, and implementing performance-based funding models, while providing transparency and accountability, holds promise for building a stronger future workforce. This, in turn, will enable us to meet the evolving needs of our businesses and communities. The Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County stands firmly behind this vision and advocates for the policies and funding that will contribute to an increasingly educated workforce, ultimately driving our economy forward. I appreciate the Governor’s commitment to addressing these critical issues, and I am grateful to offer my support to such a vital challenge.” – Greg Scott, President and CEO, Chamber of Business & Industry Centre County
“Every day we hear from our business community that their most pressing challenge is workforce. To solve these challenges, we need new and innovative solutions that will meet the immediate needs while positioning our region for the future. The Harrisburg/Capital region and commonwealth have the necessary assets to be a national leader in job creation. We look forward to working with Governor Shapiro and the legislature in the coming months to again assert Pennsylvania as the national innovator in economic and workforce development.” – Ryan Unger, President & CEO, Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC
“We were pleased to hear about Governor Shapiro’s Blueprint for Higher Education. As the gap continues to widen for available jobs and credentialed applicants, the Governor’s plan appears to be a critical step for the Commonwealth to take to address these demands. We are open to supporting efforts to provide access to affordable education so that our community and our state continue to grow and prosper.” – James Grunke, President and CEO, Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership
“As a new member of the Board of Trustees at the University of Pittsburgh, I look forward to assisting the Governor in implementing his vision for making higher education more affordable and accessible in the Commonwealth. Education is, and always will be, the critical component of economic success and this innovation in reducing the spiraling cost of higher education is a cogent and effective approach that should be adopted immediately. Every child deserves equal opportunity to succeed and the Governor is seeking to ensure that in the Commonwealth, our resources will pave the path for them to achieve.” — Curtis Aiken, CEO Pro Tech Compliance
LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS
“Governor Shapiro’s Blueprint for Higher Education puts Pennsylvania on a trajectory for success. Not only in creating an equitable pathway to education and training but for students living in rural PA who want educational opportunities and face accessibility, financial, and transportation obstacles.” – Angela Harding, Clinton County Commissioner
“I am excited to see Governor Shapiro’s plan for a higher education sector that sets a predictable funding formula. This will help local community colleges like ours in Luzerne County and in turn help local taxpayers by providing stable and predictable funding going forward. Stable funding will educate and train a workforce that will drive economic growth and prosperity for every community in Pennsylvania.” – Jimmy Sabatino, Luzerne County Councilman
“As an elected official in rural Pa and a mother of two teenage boys, there are certain issues that take priority. Education is one of those issues. I couldn’t be more thankful to have a Governor that recognizes the importance of continued education, and the dire need for statewide reform and solutions. Education is the primary catalyst for success: individual success, community success, and nationwide success, unfortunately, the rising cost of college is making it more and more difficult for our younger generation to access education after high school. College just isn’t a feasible option for too many, and the consequences are certainly being felt throughout PA. In 2024, we are severely feeling the consequence of the 30 years of disinvestment in the higher education of our commonwealth! I see it every day. College enrollments are down, jobs are going unfilled, and our younger generation is very frustrated for their futures. Governor Shapiro understands that we owe it to our youth to ensure that we are setting up a foundation for success. Honestly, the future of our children and nation depends on it!” – Judy Herschel, Susquehanna County Commissioner
HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERS
“PASSHE’s remarkable transformation over the past six years shows that a collaborative system is good for students, communities, and employers, and we know higher education can accomplish so much more by uniting. The governor’s proposal is a real opportunity to build upon the strengths of PASSHE universities and the community colleges. Together we can create a new, larger system with better collaboration that gives students more pathways to a degree or credential, rapidly adjusts to the changing knowledge and skills employers want, and provides the lowest-cost option for students throughout their lifetime.” – PASSHE Chancellor Dan Greenstein
“PASSHE has been rapidly evolving to meet the changing needs of students with a carefully planned strategy that has gained statewide and national attention. We have intentionally focused on maximizing the benefits of being a system to help our students and universities. But there is only so much we can do by ourselves. Now we look forward to helping to build a new system for Pennsylvania that offers a full range of post-secondary programs, from credentials through associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, provides greater investment in students, and helps many more people to get the education and skills they need for good jobs in our communities. Thanks to Gov. Shapiro, this is our opportunity to build the comprehensive public state higher education system of the future.” – Cynthia Shapira, Chair of the PASSHE Board of Governors
“I have been a strong advocate for performance-based funding in higher education, not only to enhance transparency and accountability, but also to achieve meaningful outcomes for our students. I am extremely pleased to see that part of Gov. Shapiro’s blueprint is a call to establish a predictable performance-based funding formula, and we look forward to working with the legislature to implement such a model. This initiative presents a significant opportunity for Penn State and other state-related institutions to work together with the Commonwealth on shared goals for workforce and economic development.” – Neeli Bendapudi, President, Penn State
“We are very grateful to the Governor for his bold initiative in support of higher education in Pennsylvania. Temple is eager to collaborate with the governor’s efforts to support our students, ensure greater access, affordability and excellence in higher education, and spur economic growth in the Commonwealth.” – Richard M. Englert, President, Temple University
“We thank Governor Shapiro for his leadership in putting forth an innovative blueprint to give Pennsylvania students greater opportunities for affordable, high-quality higher education and to bolster the role of colleges and universities like Pitt in driving Pennsylvania’s economic success. Pitt looks forward to working with the Shapiro Administration and the legislature to enact a higher education plan that delivers for students and puts Pennsylvania on a path to a more competitive workforce and a more robust economy.” – Joan Gabel, Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh
“A higher education opens the door to opportunity for our students – here at Lincoln, we empower students to learn, liberate, and lead throughout their lives. The outcomes-based funding formula Governor Shapiro has proposed in his bold new blueprint for higher education would support us in our work by delivering additional funding to support our historic mission, while also giving state-related universities like Lincoln stability and a chance to plan for the future needs of our students.” – Dr. Brenda Allen, President, Lincoln University
“I am encouraged by Governor Shapiro’s vision for a new blueprint for higher education in Pennsylvania. This is a wonderful opportunity for the 10 PASSHE colleges and 15 community colleges to work together to develop a system that is accessible, affordable and creates opportunities for Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth. I look forward to working with my colleagues and Governor Shapiro to forward this project.” – Dr. Quintin Bullock, President, the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)
“At HACC, we believe that a college education should be accessible to all – no matter their background. Governor Shapiro’s vision of a higher education sector sets Pennsylvanians, including current and future HACC students, up for success by making it easier for them to transfer earned credits, build skills that employers are seeking and save time and money in the process. HACC looks forward to working with Governor Shapiro and the Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education to create pathways to affordable credentials and degrees that will change lives, destinies and family trees in Central Pennsylvania and beyond.” – John J. “Ski” Sygielski, President and CEO of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
See what Pennsylvanians are reading about the Shapiro Administration’s work to ensure every Pennsylvanian has the freedom to chart their own course and the opportunity to succeed:
# # #