Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges President & CEO Elizabeth Bolden and leaders from Pennsylvania’s community colleges today expressed appreciation that the 2022-23 fiscal year budget proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf provides a five percent operating and capital funding increase for the colleges. Community colleges requested an increase of at least 7.5 percent or $18.3 million for operating and 10 percent or $5 million for capital.
“Pennsylvania’s community colleges will be the engine that drives the Commonwealth’s post-COVID recovery, provide the workforce our employers desperately need, upskill workers for new jobs, and provide our graduating high school students with a seamless transition to post-secondary education,” said Dr. Mark H. Erickson, President of Northampton Community College and Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges Executive Committee. “As the Governor has signaled, investment in community colleges will be the key to our success.”
Pennsylvania community colleges offer high-quality education and workforce programs to nearly a quarter of a million students annually. These programs are aligned with areas of critical workforce needs across the Commonwealth. The colleges regularly consult with more than 1,400 business partners statewide – from Kennametal Inc. in western Pennsylvania to PhilaPort in eastern Pennsylvania – to develop programs that meet state and local workforce needs, fueling Pennsylvania’s economic recovery.
Community colleges also educate the Commonwealth’s healthcare workers, firefighters, welders and truck drivers, as well as offering much needed training in other in-demand fields. In 2018-19, Pennsylvania community colleges awarded over 75 percent of the associate degrees earned in nursing within the Commonwealth.
Beyond these critical workforce pathways, Pennsylvania community colleges serve more low-income and first-in-their-family college students than any other sector of higher education. Nearly half of community college students in the Commonwealth are considered very low-income, coming from families earning less than $30,000 annually. The vast majority of community college students stay in their local community after receiving a postsecondary credential. Community colleges and their students and alumni add as much as $13.6 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy, approximately two percent of the total gross state product.
“Community colleges are eager to retrain, upskill and educate Pennsylvanians for in-demand, family-sustaining careers here in the Commonwealth, spurring the economic recovery Pennsylvania needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased that Governor Wolf proposes to support the colleges in training the next generation of Pennsylvanians for the workforce – an area in which community colleges have excelled for decades,” said Elizabeth Bolden, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “Beyond our short-term workforce training and certificate programs, community colleges offer students the opportunity to save at least $20,000 on the cost of higher education through thousands of transfer agreements with baccalaureate-granting institutions – savings Pennsylvania students desperately need. Community colleges need appropriate and consistent state funding to ensure these quality, affordable workforce and transfer programs can continue.”