PA Gov. Shapiro proposes major changes for higher ed, including increased funding
Governor Josh Shapiro sketched out major changes for funding and running colleges and universities in Pennsylvania that he said will be focused on outcomes.
“After 30 years of disinvestment, too many of our colleges and universities are running on empty, and not enough students have affordable pathways through college and then into good jobs," Shapiro said Tuesday, in a speech outlining his proposed budget for the upcoming year.
Shapiro is proposing a new system that would unite Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, or state schools, and community colleges. He wants to increase their funding by 15%. He said once the new system for the state schools is in place, he would ask the General Assembly for more funding so no family making the median income or less would pay more than $1,000 a semester.
He also wants to increase funding for the state-relateds — Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln — by 5%. Pennsylvania, he said, ranks 49th for state investment in higher education and 48th in affordability.
And Shapiro called for changing the General Assembly’s process for approving the state-related’s funding from the two-thirds vote now needed to a simple majority.
Last year, funding to Penn State and the other state-relateds got tied up in a drawn-out political battle. The General Assembly ended up approving flat funding for Penn State, Pitt and Temple more than four months after the start of the fiscal year.
Shapiro said the state would not be writing the universities a "blank check," and would instead pay for outcomes and performance. Those outcomes could include increasing first-generation college students and ensuring more students stay in Pennsylvania after graduating.
“Working together with members of the General Assembly and higher ed leaders, we’ll create a predictable, transparent, outcome-based funding system that will apply to schools in this new system and our state-relateds," he said.
In a news release, Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi voiced support for Shapiro's proposal.
“After seeing performance-based funding work effectively in other states, I am pleased that Gov. Shapiro has formally endorsed this concept here in Pennsylvania," she said. "I look forward to working with the governor and General Assembly to develop the metrics and goals that make the most sense for Pennsylvania, our universities, and our students and families.”