Pennsylvania’s community college leaders are concerned about the impact of static levels of state support for the colleges given their important role in the Commonwealth’s education and workforce development systems. Governor Corbett’s proposed 2014-15 Budget recommends level operational funding for the Commonwealth’s community colleges. This funding recommendation is equal to the amount the colleges have received in each of the preceding three fiscal years.
The colleges collectively asked for increases in operational and capital funding from the state to support and expand programs for Pennsylvanians who are seeking an affordable pathway to a degree or skills to enter the workforce.
“Pennsylvania Highlands has made great strides in providing access to affordable, quality higher education opportunities in West Central Pennsylvania with campuses and academic centers in Cambria, Blair, Huntingdon, and Somerset counties,” said Dr. Walter Asonevich, President of Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. “We are concerned that shrinking government support for our operations will prohibit our ability to provide cost-effective options for post-secondary students and reach further into unserved and underserved areas of Central Pennsylvania.”
Asonevich and his colleagues from across the state are concerned that it will be difficult for the colleges to limit tuition increases and make needed investments to ensure program quality and alignment with developing workforce needs, including programs linked to the natural gas and healthcare industries.
“Community colleges train the workforce that supports Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Elizabeth Bolden, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, the nonprofit entity that represents the interests of the state’s 14 community colleges. “Additional investments in the colleges are necessary to enable them to develop and offer cost-effective workforce training programs to meet existing and emerging industry needs.”
Last year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges partnered with employers and others to provide customized training for nearly 50,000 Pennsylvania workers.
“The colleges are hopeful that as budget discussions evolve, the General Assembly will ultimately pass a budget that recognizes the vital role of community colleges in sustaining and accelerating the Commonwealth’s economic recovery,” Bolden said.
Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges serve students from every county in the state. The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges is a voluntary membership association for Pennsylvania’s community colleges. Its members include the college presidents, members of the colleges’ boards of trustees, and key college administrators. The Commission represents the interests of and advocates for the collective needs of the community colleges to federal and state policymakers.