Rep. Longietti Sees Community Colleges as a Gateway to a Better Tomorrow

“To me, community colleges in Pennsylvania are a gateway – either to the workforce or another postsecondary institution,” said Rep. Mark Longietti, Democratic Chair of the House Education Committee. “These aren’t just the stereotypical college students anymore, either. Many are nontraditional students with careers, families and other responsibilities who are trying to build a better life through education or skilled training. I commend these Pennsylvanians for their drive and dedication.”

Inspired by his mother, who was a nontraditional college student before becoming a public school teacher, Rep. Longietti (D-7) understands some of the barriers students face in pursuit of higher education. These barriers can be as simple as losing access to transportation, which is why he fought to keep a bus route to the Butler County Community College (BC3) additional location in his district – BC3 @ LindenPointe in Hermitage.

However, Rep. Longietti was quick to point out that transportation is just one potential barrier; there are many, including the overall cost of higher education in Pennsylvania, which makes postsecondary study unattainable for many. He said a statewide dual enrollment program could change that.

“I was disappointed when Pennsylvania eliminated its statewide dual enrollment program in 2011,” he shared. “We are looking at a higher education affordability crisis here in the Commonwealth, and a statewide dual enrollment program with community colleges as eligible providers holds great potential to lower student debt and reduce time to a degree.”

Currently, Pennsylvania is one of only two states that does not offer a statewide dual enrollment program. When possible, community colleges work with local school districts to offer these programs. In 2020, for example, then-teenager Saylee Grinnen tied alumna Mikayla Beachem to become the youngest graduates to receive a BC3 workplace certificate in entrepreneurship.

“I see education as the great equalizer, and community colleges are the gateway. It can transform lives and communities,” concluded Rep. Longietti.

Additional information and data on dual enrollment in Pennsylvania are available here.