Pennsylvania’s governor rooting for higher education

By Gekeya Pinder
March 19, 2024


On January 26, Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro revealed his blueprint for higher education, claiming it will help college become more affordable and accessible.

Better higher education

Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro. Photo from Flickr.

In Pennsylvania, there are nearly 300 colleges where people can pursue their interests and future careers, but many cannot afford to stay in school or go to school at all.

According to a press release from Shapiro’s office, “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 into good jobs. Pennsylvania spends less on higher education than every other state except for New Hampshire – that means the financial burden of higher education falls on our institutions and students, who are forced to cut services, raise tuition, and take on more debt.”

Shapiro wants to invest in Pennsylvania’s students through a new system that brings together the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s universities and community colleges.

According to the press release, “Under the new system created by Governor Shapiro’s plan, Pennsylvanians making up to the median income will pay no more than $1,000 in tuition and fees per semester at state-owned universities and community colleges.

Shapiro’s budget

After announcing his blueprint and hopes for Pennsylvania, on Feb. 6, Shapiro announced his state budget. In the new budget, $975 million would go toward the new system that unites PASSHE (Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education) schools and community colleges. Also, there will be 5% increase in institutional support for Penn State, Temple University, Lincoln University, and University of Pittsburgh, which are Commonwealth schools that serve the same purpose to meet every student’s needs and opportunities.

Shapiro proposes for 2025-2026 an increase in financial aid for students and their families who may have a lesser income. He also hopes to increase state grants for students by $1,000. He wants to invest $279 million for students that will have the ability to attend college in Pennsylvania without having to worry about too much debt to pay back later on. 

Students’ thoughts

Students working together in Cabrini’s library. Photo from Flickr.

At Cabrini, students with or without scholarships pay $34,800 in tuition and more with fees. With Shapiro’s plan, students who are transferring to other schools may not have to pay so much to go to school.

Sophia Fastuca, senior writing and narrative arts major, said, “His plan will impact students more financially and it will be fair for families who are not paid a certain amount. I believe that the more education people have, they will be more prepared for the workforce ahead of them than worrying about their debt. If universities’ tuition were lower, students wouldn’t have to stress and take out as many loans.”

Sheyani Davis, senior sociology major, said, “I believe his plan would help students budget their finances knowing that they won’t have to worry about paying off school debt. School debt holds a lot of people back and the fact that he is trying to make it affordable, it helps me and others worry about other things like buying a house or a car.”

Janay Washington, junior health science major, agreed, “This plan gives students more freedom and headway to have a better education. It would actually help people go to school without having to apply for a bunch of loans just to get there.”

Paola Rivera, sophomore marketing major, said, “If this plan succeeds for Pennsylvania, it will be like a weight off students’ shoulders and we won’t have to worry about paying off expensive debt.”


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Gekeya Pinder

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