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First community college in Centre County to open this fall in Bellefonte’s Match Factory

The Match Factory in Bellefonte, Pa. A fence sits in front of the railroad tracks.
Sydney Roach
The Pennsylvania Highlands Community College location in Centre County will open on the second floor of the Match Factory in Bellefonte. Classes will start this fall.

Centre County will have its first community college this fall when the Pennsylvania Highlands Community College opens, with its leaders saying they want to offer students in the area an affordable option.

There are 15 community colleges in Pennsylvania, including the Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. It currently has locations in Cambria, Somerset, Blair and Huntingdon counties.

“In Pennsylvania, there are what I call community college deserts. There are just areas that are not really being served well by community colleges. I think Centre County is probably one of them," said Steve Nunez, president of Penn Highlands Community College.

Outside of the Pennsylvania Highlands Community College center in Altoona.
Sydney Roach
The Pennsylvania Highlands Community College's Blair County location is in Altoona in the Logan Valley Mall. There are also locations in Huntingdon, Somerset, Ebensburg, and Johnstown.

Nunez said it can be intimidating for some students to go to a larger school like Penn State. And, he said, many people choose a community college to save money.

"You know, as part of the governor's blueprint for higher education, he does believe that our higher education sector in Pennsylvania is pretty expensive. And so he does want to invest in higher education and make it as affordable as possible for the residents who live here," Nunez said. “I think that there's just going to be a group of students that are really excited about the opportunity to come to us sort of figure out what they want to do in their career — whether it's spend a semester or a year or two years with us and go into the workforce, or maybe transfer to Penn State.”

Penn Highlands does not currently have a transfer agreement with Penn State, but is developing one with Penn State Altoona. Nunez said the university does work with students to review transcripts and decide which credits to transfer.

“There's no judgment here. Students can pick Penn State, they can pick Penn State Altoona, they can go to Lock Haven if that makes the most sense to the student in their own academic journey. That's great," Nunez said.

The new Penn Highlands location in Bellefonte will open in the fall at the Match Factory. It will offer several associate degrees and certificates, including accounting, paralegal studies and marketing management.

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.