Leaders of Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities testified before lawmakers this week, warning of impending tuition hikes if they do not receive more support. The University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, Temple University, and Lincoln University are struggling with declining enrollment and difficulty retaining graduates in the state. Even with Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposed 7.1% funding increase, the universities argue that this will not be enough to stave off future tuition hikes.
Demographic Cliff to Hit Pennsylvania in 2026
Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher explained that the universities will be hit by the “demographic cliff” in 2026, meaning that the declining population of working-age residents will make it harder for the state to fund programs and services. The state system has not raised tuition in four years, but needs roughly $10 million more than what the administration has offered to cover inflationary strain and still keep the rates frozen.
Enrollment Declines Plague Public Colleges and Universities
Enrollment declines are the main foe for all public colleges and universities across the state, which will have a negative effect on the economy. The universities are focusing on attracting businesses to employ graduates and working with communities to create a healthy pipeline from college life to the workforce. Penn State boasts 19 campuses, allowing students to receive degrees carrying the weight of the university’s reputation while living and working across the state.
The state has not increased funding to the four universities since 2019, while state-run colleges received a 15% supplemental increase last year. The universities are urging lawmakers to provide more support to avoid increasing tuition rates and to ensure that students can afford a quality education.