If Governor Shapiro gets his way, a semester in college will cost the same as a smartphone

February 1 — With the PA budget address less than a week away, some of the details coming out are creating a lot of questions.  

For instance, as part of Governor Josh Shapiro’s plans for higher education, he wants to bring 10 of the PASSHE universities and 15 community colleges into one system, so that tuition can be lowered. 

For families earning $70,000 a year, the tuition and fees would be $1,000 a semester.

This question probably doesn’t have to be written out, but how on earth could something like that happen? 

PA Representative Rob Kauffman said, “It would obviously require significant government funding. Somebody’s got to fund it, so the taxpayers would have to fund it. The devil’s in the details. Are we shifting money around? Or is this new money? Because if it’s new money, that’s significant. I would think we’re talking hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, to fund everybody to get a college education at $1,000 a semester when right now you know what they’re paying, tens of thousands of dollars.” 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “Of course, those are cheaper schools compared to the private schools. They’re already getting out of reach or ridiculously expensive. Plus the report card on higher education outcomes is not that great, right now. So that’s where I like the idea because at community college, the smart parents would send their kids for two years of community college and then two years. That was a way that people were saving money. So it seems like he’s trying to maybe do that for everybody in that sense. But does that mean cutting some of these expenses at these schools? Or does it mean just more funding coming from somewhere.”

Kauffman suggested, “Hopefully it would mean cutting programs that are absolutely good, I don’t want to be harsh, but very little value in society.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “Other than it’s turning into a teacher for that particular curriculum. I can’t get a gig out in the real world USA. So I better turn myself into a teacher to teach more of this curriculum that I can’t get a job for in the real world USA.”

“That’s what I’m getting at,” Kauffman said, “If we’re going to provide these $1,000 semester programs, I hope they’re marketable programs and these young people get a marketable skill education on the way out.”