Team PA-supported Higher Education Commission releases report to governor

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Governor Tom Corbett discusses the recommendations of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education.

Governor Tom Corbett announced today his support for two proposals contained in the report of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education, which was funded and facilitated by Team Pennsylvania Foundation.

Corbett said the state will propose funding higher education at its full 2011-12 levels for state and state-related universities, which was $1.58 billion last year, and university leaders in turn promised to work to keep tuition increases as low as possible for their students. (Here is a summary of the commission’s recommendations.)

“Our message to college students today is that both my administration and the leaders of your state and state-related schools are committed to making the dream of higher education attainable,” Corbett said. “I think both sides understand that a young man’s or a young woman’s future should not begin with a mountain of debt.”

“This links any future funding increases to performance- and outcome-based measures that will hold down tuition costs while increasing the value of a postsecondary education,” Corbett said. “All of us here share the view that responsible pricing of tuition is essential. It is crucial to not only the students and their families, but to the citizens of our state and to the taxpayers who fund and support higher education.

Both proposals were among the recommendations made by the Team PA-supported Governor’s Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education. Chaired by Rob Wonderling, the commission conducted a nine-month study, gathering information from educators, business people and citizens around the state. Wonderling is the President of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

In November, the commission submitted more than a dozen key recommendations to help postsecondary learning become more accessible and affordable with outcomes-based results. Among those recommendations was establish a long-term financial and accountability model.

Higher education leaders joining Corbett today included presidents and chancellors of Temple University, Penn State University, Lincoln University and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). Also attending the press conference was Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis, Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre County) and Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre County).

Corbett added this is the second consecutive year his administration maintained level funding for higher education.

“Our commitment allows schools to plan their budgets for the coming year and make the best use of their resources. Their commitment should allow students and their families to plan their own budgets,” Corbett added.

Tuition increases were at historic lows during the 2012-13 school year for Pennsylvania’s state and state-related universities. Temple froze tuition with no increase, while Penn State’s overall tuition was increased 2.4 percent for its main campus, while Pitt, Lincoln and the PASSHE universities raised tuition 3 percent, according to a Pennsylvania Department of Education press release.

For students at Penn State, Temple and Pitt, these were the lowest increases in more than 10 years. For PASSHE students, it was the smallest tuition increase in five years.

“I am aware of how difficult it is for many of our students to pay their college bills,” said Guido M. Pichini, Chairman, PASSHE Board of Governors. “Many of the students who attend our universities are the first members of their families to attend college. They come from working families where the parents often work multiple jobs so their sons and daughters have this opportunity. They also are Pennsylvania’s future leaders; we owe them our best effort.”

Team PA President and CEO Matt Zieger said the payoff for businesses is a job-ready workforce that will have the skills needed to compete in a 21st century global economy.

“The postsecondary sector’s willingness to offer affordable education – while increasing its value to help further the education and skills of all of Pennsylvania’s learners, both our current citizens and future workforce – is a win-win for students, their parents, the underemployed, taxpayers and businesses,” Zieger said. “This is a huge step in helping to make a postsecondary education more accessible, attainable and affordable.”

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