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Feeling the Effects of Higher Ed Cuts


      We are now beginning to see the firsthand effects of the drastically reduced state spending on higher education in Pennsylvania. The 2011-2012 budget brought on cuts to the tune of 19 percent for state-related universities, 18 percent for state system schools, and 10 percent for community colleges.

      It has already been announced that fourteen state-owned universities will raise tuition 7.5 percent next year. The increases for resident students will push the annual cost of tuition from $5,804 to $6,240. The State System of Higher Education board also increased the technology fee that all students pay by 50 percent, or $116 a year, to $348 annually. University of Pittsburgh tuition is going up 8.5 percent. Temple University increased its tuition by nearly 10 percent. Others may follow suit.

      At a time where middle-class families are struggling to pay the bills, and it is imperative to make sure young men and women in Pennsylvania are given every opportunity to succeed and compete in the workforce, the rationale behind such short-sighted cuts is difficult to fathom. Of the 120,000 students enrolled at state system campuses, nearly 106,000 are Pennsylvania residents. We must work to help young Pennsylvanians, not to drive them away.

     Pennsylvania ended June with a surplus of $785 million. Nationally, unemployment numbers have been disappointing, but the fact that our revenue picture in Pennsylvania is starting to look a bit rosier illustrates that investments which we have made in education and job creation have been working. Now is not the time to abandon these strategies which are bringing success.

      To read more about higher education tuition in Pennsylvania:

Our Community Colleges – One of the Keys to our Economic Success Statewide

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa talks with Becky Abrams, director of the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry, and state Rep. Dan Frankel

      This spring, I spent a memorable evening with nearly 200 guests of the Community College of Allegheny County at Heinz Field. It was humbling to be honored at their Legends in Leadership Gala. University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, Ron and Judy Davenport, Morgan O'Brien, and Alice McKenna were also presented with the 2011 Legends Award. The event also grossed $130,000 for the CCAC Educational Foundation.

      As a former adjunct professor and current member of the Board of Trustees, my history with Community College of Allegheny County is a long and rewarding one. I look forward to working with CCAC in the years to come.

      Now, more than ever, people are relying on our community colleges to get vital training to either get into the job market or stay in the job market – something that has become increasingly difficult to do.

CCAC President Alex Johnson and Sen. Jay Costa

      CCAC is doing its part with programs like its “Workforce Fast Tracks” short-term training program which is designed to train or re-train individuals to enter the workforce in six to eight months or less and its “Career Transition Center for Dislocated Workers” which has helped countless students with tuition costs through the difficult times of unemployment.

      Those programs include Information Technology Support, Business Management, Early Education & Childhood Development and more.

      I am pleased to be a part of such an institution which is responsive to the needs of our community and doing its part every day to make sure that our area and its people have the tools they need to succeed.

      The Mission of the Community College of Allegheny County is “to provide affordable access to quality education and offer a dynamic, diverse and supportive learning environment that prepares the region’s residents for academic, professional and personal success in our changing global society.”

      During these tough times, I appreciate their mission and all that CCAC does for our community.

      To learn more about CCAC: http://www.ccac.edu/

CCAC's 2011 Legends in Leadership Award Winners: Morgan K. O’Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer of Peoples Natural Gas Company LLC; Mark A. Nordenberg, Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Pittsburgh; Senator Jay Costa; Alice E. McKenna, PhD; Judith M. Davenport, DMD; and Ronald R. Davenport, Sr.

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