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College Responds to Governor’s Budget Proposal

Posted February 14, 2019 at 8:56 am

The smallest community college in the commonwealth must once again find ways to continue serving its students without any additional funding from the state. Pennsylvania Highlands Community College was disappointed to learn that the Governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 did not include any increase in operating dollars for community colleges.

“We feel that the Governor may not be well informed about the mission and challenges faced by community colleges in Pennsylvania,” stated Dr. Walter Asonevich, President of Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. “Community colleges were created to meet regional needs for workforce training, and to ensure that access to a college education remains local and affordable.”

While student loan debt incurred by Pennsylvania students continues to rise, and there is persistent concern regarding the ability of our current workforce to fill available jobs, the institutions best suited to address both of those issues received no new support from the Governor’s budget.

A public community college covers the costs of the education and services it provides from three sources of revenue: a local sponsor, the PA Department of Education, and tuition and fees. The stronger the support from the sponsor and the state, the lower the tuition and fee costs need to be. This government support also provides funding for the development of new programs aimed at training students for current and future workforce needs.

State assistance is especially critical for small colleges like Pennsylvania Highlands. Working to serve the rural Southern Alleghenies means that operational costs are higher per student then found in more densely populated cities and counties. This lack of appropriate financial support may result in tuition and fee increases, harming the very population the college was created to serve.

“Pennsylvania Highlands prides itself on providing a superior educational experience that everyone can access,” said Asonevich. “We want to continue doing just that, but a lack of appropriate funding will hamper our ability to maintain those lofty standards.”

Pennsylvania Highlands is a regional leader that serves the Southern Alleghenies as a low-cost option for both higher education and workforce training.