Pennsylvania’s big higher education problem gets a spotlight

Gov . Tom Wolf’s proposal to start a major new scholarship program for students at Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities caused a stir over his idea to divert the money from a sacred cow, but it also spotlit an uncomfortable truth about Pennsylvania’s performance on higher education funding. By just about every measure , Pennsylvania is ranked at the bottom among states in the level of higher education aid, size of student debt and affordability of its colleges.
Pennsylvania’s demographics , with a fast-growing 65-and-older population, a shrinking working-age population and a dropping number of high school graduates. For Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities, fewer in-state high school graduates and stagnating state aid — the university system gets less direct state aid now than it did in the 2006-07 school year — have translated into dropping enrollments, rising tuition and cutbacks.