PA Chamber Responds to Governor’s Higher Education Proposal

Last Friday, the Shapiro administration unveiled a package of proposed policy reforms and funding increases related to Pennsylvania’s various systems of higher education, including the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), so-called state-related schools (Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln), community colleges, and private schools, all of which are among the PA Chamber’s membership.

The administration’s proposed reforms include merging PASSHE’s 14 schools and all community colleges into one joint system; significantly increasing state financial aid for students, including guaranteeing that Pennsylvanians making up to the median income will pay no more than $1,000 per semester at PASSHE schools and community colleges and increasing all PHEAA grants by $1,000; increasing direct funding to institutions of higher education and establishing a funding formula that incentivizes schools to better align with employer workforce demands; and eliminating the current requirement for funding for state-related schools to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the state House and Senate.

PA Chamber President and CEO Luke Bernstein offered some initial thoughts in response to the announcement. “Pennsylvania employers continue to report challenges finding qualified applicants to fill open positions. It’s critical that we re-think how our educational system is preparing students for the career opportunities that exist today and into the future,” Bernstein said. “We appreciate Gov. Shapiro convening stakeholders to examine the current system and we look forward to reviewing the many consequential aspects of his proposed plan. We also appreciate the governor’s emphasis on reforming the higher education system as it relates to strengthening Pennsylvania’s workforce, which is critical in meeting the needs of employers, employees, and communities.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle offered generally positive statements; though some reactions emphasized cautious optimism, noting the plans lack detail, most notably related costs.

Higher education funding and policy reforms are expected to be a focal point of 2024-2025 budget deliberations that will kick off with Gov. Shapiro’s budget address scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 6.


Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.