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**Pennsylvania Governor Shapiro Unveils Comprehensive Overhaul for State-Funded Higher Education**

Gov. Josh Shapiro unveiled a strategy on Friday aimed at transforming Pennsylvania’s approach to state-funded higher education, aiming to enhance college affordability and improve economic prospects for the state, according to his office.

This comprehensive proposal, set to be a focal point of the budget presentation to the General Assembly next month, garnered bipartisan and higher-education community support for its efforts to address the challenges within Pennsylvania’s higher education system.

Pennsylvania ranks second to last in funding for higher education nationwide, trailing only New Hampshire. The gradual decline in state funding has imposed a significant financial strain on both students and institutions, leading to rising tuition costs, service cutbacks, and increased student debt, as highlighted by the governor’s office.

Under the first segment of Shapiro’s multifaceted plan, a ceiling of \(1,000 per semester on tuition and fees is proposed for state-owned universities and community colleges for median-income Pennsylvanians earning \)70,000 or less. Additionally, an increment of $1,000 in grants from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is suggested for all students enrolled in state-related universities and private colleges.

Furthermore, the blueprint advocates for the consolidation of the 10 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities and the 15 publicly operated community colleges under a revamped governance structure. Shapiro contends that this integration would enhance collaboration between institutions and promote affordability.

Chancellor Dan Greenstein of PASSHE expressed optimism about the potential of the governor’s initiative, emphasizing the opportunity to establish a more cohesive system that offers diverse pathways to academic achievement and adaptability to evolving industry demands, all while ensuring cost-effectiveness for students.

Shapiro also envisions the implementation of a performance-based funding model that would incentivize public and state-related colleges like Temple and Lincoln Universities to achieve outcomes beneficial to Pennsylvania.

To realize these reforms, the General Assembly would need to relinquish its traditional control over higher-education funding, a process requiring a two-thirds majority vote during the annual budget approval.

The proposed funding formula, as outlined by Shapiro, would consider metrics such as enrollment growth, the success rate of first-generation college students, and graduation rates to encourage institutions to recruit and support students in key fields like nursing, teaching, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing.

During his budget address scheduled for February 6, Shapiro intends to advocate for increased financial support for state-owned universities, community colleges, and their student populations.

This strategic framework is the culmination of collaborative efforts by a panel of higher-education leaders appointed by Shapiro to formulate a set of recommendations aimed at reshaping the state’s higher education landscape.

Shapiro emphasized the importance of empowering all Pennsylvanians to pursue their desired paths to success, whether through direct entry into the workforce or seeking higher education opportunities. He underscored the significance of reimagining the higher-education system to foster economic prosperity and workforce readiness in Pennsylvania.