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Pennsylvania State Capitol building (Photo by Governor Tom Wolf | CC BY 2.0).

The Pennsylvania state legislature awarded the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education $75 million, more than a 15% increase, in basic funding for the state universities system. 

The boost in funding is the largest one-time increase in funding since the system was founded in 1983, and is part of a long term plan to re-haul and revitalize public higher education within the state. The funds will allow universities to continue their freeze on tuition and fees for a fourth year, and offset financial losses from rapid inflation, pandemic costs, and the consolidation of the state university systems.

The decision comes a year after the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education combined six university systems into two systems, bringing down the number of systems from 14 to 10. Because of this decision, California University of Pennsylvania, Clarion University, and Edinboro University have combined into Pennsylvania Western University, or Penn West. Bloomsburg University, Mansfield University, and Lock Haven University, all schools located in the Northeast, are now known under the title of Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania. 

The consolidations are intended to bring down costs and ensure the continuation of certain programs. The result is two systems of three “sister” schools. All schools will retain individual presidents and leadership, as well as original university names on campuses and diplomas. The fall semester of 2022 will be the first year that these two new systems accept students. These two systems will receive part of the increase in funding allocated to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

However, not every public university will benefit from the funding increase. Temple University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Pittsburgh are all technically state-related universities and are not governed by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. These three schools will receive the same amount of funding as they did last year.

The increase in funding for schools within the 10-university system comes at the same time as an increase in funding for community colleges in Pennsylvania. These schools will receive a 4.6% increase in funding as per the approved budget.