Report out on state funding for higher education debrief

Posted by PHENND on June 8, 2020

On Friday, May 29th, PHENND Director Hillary Kane had the opportunity to hear from David Tandberg, of SHEEO, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association organized by PSCAN, the Pennsylvania Statewide College Access Network. David spoke about the current situation in higher education and specifically how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the sector after years of existing financial neglect from state governments.

Tandberg mapped state funding for public institutions higher education over the last 25 years and for anyone who’s been paying attention, the decline was no surprise.  On the flip side of the graph, was the increasing costs borne by students – with revenue from tuition per FTE student almost doubling in the same time span.

Tandberg also showed that state resources disproportionately go to flagship public institutions, which on average, tend to have a whiter and wealthier student body, in need of fewer resources than their non-flagship and community college counterparts.

And again, no surprise to anyone paying attention, Pennsylvania ranks as one of the worst offenders with the third lowest level of state funding for its public institutions in the nation and the fifth highest net tuition in the country.  This brings to mind a friend who told me (and this was years ago) that it was cheaper for him to attend college as an out-of-state resident in Washington State than go to Penn State right here at home.

The question Tandberg posed at the end of his presentation is whether higher ed will rebound from the double-whammy of historically low funding exacerbated by challenges from the pandemic. Of course, American higher ed has changed and reinvented itself more than once in its long history. Its incumbent upon those of us involved in this moment to push for the changes we need – from within and without – to ensure that student success and equity is at the center of that change.

More in "College Success Network"

Stay Current in Philly's Higher Education and Nonprofit Sector

We compile a weekly email with local events, resources, national conferences, calls for proposals, grant, volunteer and job opportunities in the higher education and nonprofit sectors.