Public Colleges in PA Scramble to Recruit Students Amid Enrollment Drops

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Efforts are underway to bolster enrollment in Pa.'s colleges and universities.

The number of enrollments in public colleges has plunged nationwide, putting Pa. State System of Higher Education schools into a position of scrambling to attract more students. Nick Anderson and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel opened the book on the development for The Washington Post.

Pa. State System of Higher Education has enrolled 219,113 students in fall 2021, a 12 percent drop compared with fall 2019. This puts the Keystone State in fifth place among states with the highest enrollment drops. Community college enrollment in PA plunged even more, by 23 percent.

The student shortage has been developing for several years, in part due to stagnant population growth. The pandemic and rising wages have also helped accelerate the trend.

Another obstacle is a pattern of low funding for higher education. According to an estimate by the Higher Education Executive Officers Association and Illinois State University, Pa. is spending around $142 per capita on higher education, which is the second-lowest in the country. This forces students and their families to pay a higher share of campus operating expenses.

Public university tuition is also among the highest nationwide, putting Pa. in third place nationally, with an average of $15,312.

Read more about the drop in higher education enrollments in The Washington Post.

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