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Pennsylvania Governor Proposes to Overhaul the State University System

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro speaks with the press. Today, Governor Josh Shapiro signed an executive order establishing the Pennsylvania Office of Transformation and Opportunity within the Governor’s Office and the Economic Development Strategy Group. This newly created office will be a one-stop-shop for businesses looking to grow and will work to aggressively reignite Pennsylvania’s economy – fostering innovation, supporting transformational economic development, and creating real opportunity for businesses and workers alike in our Commonwealth, particularly in communities that have too often been left behind. As part of this announcement, Governor Shapiro named Pennsylvania business leader and entrepreneur Ben Kirshner to the role of Chief Transformation and Opportunity Officer. HARRISBURG, PA – Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro has unveiled a comprehensive plan aimed at overhauling the state’s higher education system. The proposal, developed over nearly a year, seeks to consolidate 10 state universities and 15 community colleges under a single governance structure. The plan addresses issues of affordability by introducing a tiered tuition structure, allowing students with low to middle incomes to pay only $1,000 per semester. The overhaul aims to boost state funding for public higher education and incorporates performance metrics to determine funding for each university, considering factors such as graduation rates and the success of first-generation college students.

Governor Shapiro has expressed concerns about the current competition among state-funded universities, leading to duplicated degree programs, increased costs, and reduced access. The proposed changes do not impact prominent public universities like Penn State, Pittsburgh, and Temple. While cost-saving measures are emphasized, there are no plans to close campuses, and the exact governance structure is yet to be finalized in collaboration with the state legislature.

Shapiro is set to provide additional details, including funding amounts and potential tax implications, during a budget message on Feb. 6. The plan addresses Pennsylvania’s current low rankings in affordability and spending for public higher education. With declining enrollment and concerns about accessibility, the proposed overhaul aims to position the state’s higher education institutions for future success.


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