HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – After merging multiple universities the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is looking forward and asking for more funding.

Chancellor Dan Greenstein says the system’s financial house is in order but they’re “at a pivot point” and the system “cannot continue as we have been.”

Greenstein notes that PASSHE schools (which include Mansfield, Millersville, and Shippensburg among others) are the least expensive four year college option in Pennsylvania. It costs about $23,000 for tuition, room and board for the average PASSHE student.

“We are third or fourth in the nation in terms of expense, our students are graduating with debt rates third or fourth highest in the nation,” said Greenstein, who says their focus is on what employers need to fill the talent gap.

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Greenstein says PASSHE is working “closely with employers and employer associations to identify what those needs are and what the skills required of graduates who want to go into those fields.”

The system is asking state lawmakers for an extra $200 million in aid for lower and middle-income students who’ve been priced out of the system.

“Students who enroll as low-income students ten years after graduation are earning about as much as students who enrolled as high-income students,” said Greenstein. “So we are an engine of social mobility and when you layer race on that, guess what, it still works.”

Greenstein says the money isn’t about buying more faculty or staff, but funding the future of Pennsylvania.

“It’s not about preserving our system or our universities, it’s about the state of Pennsylvania. What kind of a society do you want to live in?”

The state budget is due at the end of June and Pennsylvania is holding a record amount of money. Now comes the difficult decision of how much to spend and where to spend it.

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